The iPhone maker is reported to have brought several hundred VR and AR experts on board.
Apple has recently hired a secret augmented and virtual reality team that includes hundreds of people who are considered to be experts within both of those forms of technology, according to a report published in the Financial Times.
The report indicated that this secret VR technology team has been developing device prototypes.
The idea, it said, was that these device prototypes could potentially provide Apple with a virtual reality gadget that would compete with Hololens, the augmented reality headset from Microsoft, as well as the Oculous Rift, the VR headset from Facebook. Some of the team is made up of new hires into the company, while others were brought in through acquisitions of other businesses.
For instance, in 2013, Apple acquired Primesense, a motion-sensing startup from Israel. Similarly, in 2015, Metaio, the augmented reality startup from Germany, was purchased by the tech giant. Even more recently, Flyby, an augmented reality startup, was also taken in by Apple.
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These only laid the foundation for the secret virtual reality team, which was completed with additional hiring.
In January, Apple had already made headlines when it started hiring talent in VR, such as Doug Bowman, who is a known expert in that field and in augmented reality. However, as is the case with most of its development efforts, it has tried to keep things as quiet as possible. This was the case when it slipped some of the Lytro camera maker’s talent away and even snatched up some of the Hololens team from Microsoft, said the Financial Times report.
Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, underscored the company’s interest in virtual reality when he spoke at an earnings call, explaining that “I don’t think it’s a niche. It’s really cool and has some interesting applications.”
That said, just because the company has gone to all this effort in hiring and coming up with a team of this nature, it doesn’t actually mean that Apple will ever launch a virtual reality product. The iPhone maker is known for dedicating considerable resources to products that it never ends up actually putting on the market.