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Apple Hires NASA Augmented Reality Expert Jeff Norris
Norris has reportedly joined Apple as a senior manager working on the augmented reality team led by Mike Rockwell, who formerly ran Dolby Labs. The team is said to be working on the previously-rumored augmented reality smart glasses as well as AR features for future versions of the iPhone.
Prior to joining Apple, Norris worked at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he was employed since 1999. Along with founding the Mission Operations Innovation Office, he founded the JPL Ops Lab for developing human-system interfaces for mission operations, and he led multiple projects focused on human-system interaction with an emphasis on virtual and augmented reality.
On his website, Norris features a speech he gave on augmented reality and Nasa's JPL Ops Lab, much of which was focused on augmented reality headsets and their uses.
Under Norris' leadership, the JPL Ops Lab provided the Microsoft HoloLens to astronauts onboard the International Space Station and developed software for virtually working on Mars with the HoloLens.
For the last couple of years, Apple has taken a deep interest in augmented and virtual reality, and is said to have a large team of employees working on the technologies and exploring ways they could be used in future Apple products.
Apple has been working on both virtual reality headsets and augmented reality smart glasses, with the aim of launching the latter in 2018. We've also heard rumors suggesting augmented reality functionality could be incorporated into the iPhone, perhaps as early as the iPhone 8 set to be released this September.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has expressed his excitement about augmented reality several times in recent months. "I think AR is that big, it's huge. I get excited because of the things that could be done that could improve a lot of lives," he said in February of 2017.