During the company’s quarterly earnings report on Tuesday, CEO Tim Cook hinted that Apple might be interested in virtual reality, and when you pair that hint with last week’s report that the company has hired one of the most-prominent virtual reality researchers in the world, it’s pretty clear that Apple has some plans for the emerging virtual reality market. How large those plans are is still a mystery, but the Financial Times reported on Friday that the company has hundreds of employees that it’s acquired through acquisitions and poaching working on a secret virtual reality device, so it’s safe to assume that Apple plans to do more than just dabble in virtual reality.
Tech giant Apple is secretly hiring a highly qualified team of researchers to develop a Virtual Reality device to rival Facebook’s Oculus Rift or Microsoft’s HoloLens, the Financial Times reports. The California-based company has reportedly employed “hundreds of staff from a series of carefully targeted acquisitions” and those “poached from companies that are working on next-generation headset technologies including Microsoft,” the newspaper said, citing sources familiar with the matter. On Tuesday, Apple CEO Tim Cook said VR “is really cool and has some interesting applications.” Earlier, the FT reported that Doug Bowman, one of the top US researchers in virtual reality had joined the Apple team. His academic profile says that Bowman focused his research on “three-dimensional user interface design and the benefits of immersion in virtual environments”. In 2015, reports emerged that Apple had won a patent for an iPhone-compatible headset that would display virtual reality images, putting the company in competition with the likes of Google and Samsung in the VR market. The patent detailed a head-mounted portable electronic device that an iPhone can be inserted into to display virtual reality – the simulation of physical presence in real or imagined settings. It includes a remote control to enable a user to change screen content while wearing the headset-iPhone display.