Apple telegraphs virtual reality plans

January 22, 2016 // 4:31 p.m.

Tags: #apple #ar #augmented-reality #doug-bowman #htc #oculus-vr #pippin #razer #sony #virtual-reality #vr

Apple appears to be mulling an entry into the burgeoning virtual reality market, hiring specialist researcher Doug Bowman as a number of commercial implementations of VR technology prepare to launch.

Virtual reality isn't a new concept, but it's one whose time may finally have come. The cumbersome shutter glasses and blurry, low-resolution head-mounted displays of yesteryear have been washed away in shiny new devices based on high-resolution OLED panels from the likes of Oculus VR, HTC, and Sony - or, at least, each company has promised to launch such devices, though all have currently experienced delays in bringing commercial implementations to market.

For Apple, the promise of a burgeoning new market can't be ignored. Although the company has typically shied away from gaming - the failed Pippin project notwithstanding - its modus operandi typically involves allowing others to prove the existence of a new market before buying, developing, or outright stealing the technology it needs to offer a better experience at a higher price. It's an approach which has stood the company well, from its entry into the personal computer market to its domination of the high-end tablet and smartphone markets.

Now, the Financial Times is suggesting that Apple has plans in the VR market, thanks to its recent hiring of human-computer interaction researcher Doug Bowman whose experience covers both virtual and augmented reality. The timing certainly makes sense: if Apple wants to be ready with a shinier VR product when Oculus VR, HTC, Sony, Razer and others have proven the market, it will need to start developing it now.

Apple, as is usual for the company, has not commented on the hire nor on its future plans for VR or AR technologies.
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