Apple Has Secret Team Working on Virtual Reality Headset

Apple has expanded its research efforts in virtual and augmented reality, building out a large team that is experimenting with headsets and other technologies, reports Financial Times in a detailed post on the company's virtual reality work that covers recent hires and acquisitions.

Hundreds of employees are part of a "secret research unit" exploring AR and VR, with the team consisting of experts hired through acquisitions and poached from Microsoft and Lytro, the company that developed the Immerge, a Light Field power camera able to blend live action and computer graphics for a live action VR experience. Apple has also hired Doug Bowman, said to be one of the leading virtual reality experts in the United States.

In addition to recent AR/VR-related acquisitions Metaio, Faceshift, and Emotient, Apple has also just purchased Flyby Media, a startup that worked on augmented reality technologies. Flyby Media created an app that worked with Google's "Project Tango" smartphone with 3D sensors, allowing messages to be attached to real world objects that were then viewable by one of Google's devices.

apple_patent_video_goggle
Most notably, Apple's AR/VR team is said to have built prototype virtual reality headsets that are similar to the Oculus Rift and the Hololens from Microsoft. Multiple prototypes of "possible headset configurations" have been created in recent months, with Apple's interest reportedly inspired by the Oculus Rift.

It is not clear if and when Apple's work on a headset prototype will make it past the development stage into an actual product, and the company often secretly works on technologies that never see the light of day. The scope of what Apple is building is also unknown, but Financial Times says that the company's work could potentially be useful for the Apple Car project.

Apple has had a team working on virtual and augmented reality technologies since at least early 2015, when rumors suggested there were a small number of employees investigating how Apple could incorporate the technologies into its products. Apple's interest in virtual reality dates back much further, however, and Apple has filed multiple patents over the years, for products like video goggles, motion-sensing 3D virtual interfaces for iOS devices, and 3D "hyper reality" displays.

Apple CEO Tim Cook was recently questioned on whether he believed virtual reality could go mainstream. He explained that he does not see virtual reality as a niche product, describing it as "really cool" with "some interesting applications."

Related Roundup: Apple Glasses

Top Rated Comments

Cougarcat Avatar
82 months ago
Hopefully Apple also has a secret team working on Macs that have GPUs that can run VR...
Score: 37 Votes (Like | Disagree)
69Mustang Avatar
82 months ago
At this point, a bigger surprise would be a company without an AR/VR project.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Freida Avatar
82 months ago
Isn't it OBVIOUS? Tim Cook says VR is "cool". 2 days later a rumour comes in that says there is a secret team working on VR.
Am I the only one thinking that this is just something pulled out of thin air based on what Tim said?
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
cdm283813 Avatar
82 months ago
They have to or else Mac's/OS X will be dead if VR explodes. Not going to guarantee that VR is going to be a hit but I spent over $1500 upgrading my gaming PC and another $600 for a oculus rift preorder because I'm looking few new experiences. Not one penny went to Apple.
If Apple does not jump on it early their entire computer business is in trouble with "mainstream" buyers. It will be too late once the cost of premium headsets come down. If it wasn't for Samsung's incompetence in upgrading their flagship phones I would be using a Galaxy S6 with gear VR.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MikhailT Avatar
82 months ago
VR so far is very gaming centric and Apple as no interest in gaming.

To get framerates and image quality that don't cause motion sickness, VR needs very high end hardware. There is nothing from Apple that comes close to being able to drive decent VR.

VR seems to be the complete opposite of what Timmy's Apple stands for. So, it should be interesting to see what they come up with. Maybe a google-cardboard clone that takes 2 watches instead of a phone. People can't rave about how much better than 2 screen system is than google's one screen version.
The article says AR/VR, not just VR. AR is not gaming-centric. Think of Microsoft's Halo Lens, rather than the Oculus Rift.

AR can be very useful for displaying content beyond what you see on your monitor and as you walk around in the real world.

AR does not need a high end GPU because it is not focused on controlling your entire sense but complement the eye vision, it would only need to overlay the content on top of the glass and can be purely text.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
AppleWarMachine Avatar
82 months ago
it's not a secret anymore :D

with that being said, I'm still not interested..."a niche product"
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

maxresdefault

Unbox Therapy Shares Hands-On Look at iPhone 14 Pro Max Replica

Monday May 16, 2022 4:40 am PDT by
YouTuber Unbox Therapy has shared a hands-on look at the iPhone 14 Pro Max using what he claims is a one-to-one replica created by third-party case makers with access to detailed schematics and dimensions for Apple's new upcoming flagship smartphone. As with the iPhone 13 Pro lineup, in 2022, we are expecting a 6.1-inch iPhone 14 Pro and a 6.7-inch iPhone 14 Pro Max, but this time the Pro...
macOS Monterey 2

Apple Releases macOS Monterey 12.4 With Support for Studio Display Webcam Update

Monday May 16, 2022 10:10 am PDT by
Apple today released macOS Monterey 12.4, the fourth major update to the macOS Monterey operating system that launched in October 2021. macOS Monterey 12.4 comes over two months after the launch of macOS Monterey 12.3, an update that added Universal Control. The ‌‌‌‌‌macOS Monterey‌‌ 12.4 update can be downloaded on all eligible Macs using the Software Update section of System...
iOS 15

Apple Releases iOS 15.5 and iPadOS 15.5 With Wallet and Podcast Updates

Monday May 16, 2022 10:00 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS 15.5 and iPadOS 15.5, the fifth major updates to the iOS and iPadOS 15 operating systems that were initially released in September 2021. iOS and iPadOS 15.5 come a little over two months after the launch of iOS 15.4 and iPadOS 15.4. The iOS 15.5 and iPadOS 15.5 updates can be downloaded for free and the software is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in...
iOS 16 mock for article

Gurman: iOS 16 to Include New Ways of System Interaction and 'Fresh Apple Apps'

Sunday May 15, 2022 6:14 am PDT by
iOS 16 will include new ways of interacting with the system and some "fresh Apple apps," Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has said, offering some more detail on what Apple has in store for the upcoming release of iOS and iPadOS set to be announced in a few weeks at WWDC. In the latest edition of his Power On newsletter, Gurman wrote that while iOS 16 is not likely to introduce a major face-lift to...
Prosser Series 8 3

Apple Watch Series 8 Rumored to Feature New Design With Flat Display

Wednesday May 18, 2022 6:21 am PDT by
The Apple Watch Series 8 could feature an all-new design with a flat display, according to the leaker known as "ShrimpApplePro." In his latest video on the YouTube channel Front Page Tech, Jon Prosser highlighted information from ShrimpApplePro that suggests the Apple Watch Series 8 could feature a flat display in what seems to be a design originally rumored for the Apple Watch Series 7. ...
Whatsapp Feature

WhatsApp to Let Users Leave Group Chats 'Silently' and View Rich Link Previews in Status Updates

Tuesday May 17, 2022 3:07 am PDT by
WhatsApp is working on a new feature that will allow users to "silently" leave group chats hosted by the messaging platform instead of all members of the group being notified when they do. As it stands, when someone leaves a group chat, WhatsApp announces their exit to the entire group, making the act of leaving very public. It's not possible right now to leave a group quietly, but WhatsApp...
apple tv 4k design green

Apple Releases tvOS 15.5 for Apple TV HD and Apple TV 4K

Monday May 16, 2022 9:57 am PDT by
Apple today released tvOS 15.5, the fifth major update to the tvOS operating system that first launched in September 2021. tvOS 15.5 comes more than two months after the release of tvOS 15.4, an update that brought support for captive WiFi networks. tvOS 15.5 can be downloaded over the air on the Apple TV through the Settings app by going to System > Software Update. ‌‌‌‌‌‌Apple...