We know that tech industry giants like Sony, Microsoft, HTC, and Facebook are all looking at virtual reality with big ideas for the future. However, Apple has been conspicuously silent about any plans to enter the field. Now it seems that the Cupertino-based company might have grand designs on VR that are being developed behind closed doors.
Apple has apparently brought together a “large team of experts” to work on virtual reality and augmented reality projects internally, according to a report from the Financial Times. It’s thought that this team has constructed a series of prototype headsets in recent months, though Apple hasn’t commented on the project.
In the past, Apple has been somewhat reticent to jump headfirst into VR waters. Steve Jobs reportedly oversaw some experimentation with the field in the early 2000s, but it seemed that a return to the tech was unlikely after an interview with Jonathan Ive from last year saw the Chief Design Officer criticize Google Glass for being head-mounted.
Perhaps in an attempt to catch up with the more established companies working in this arena, Apple has reportedly poached some talented individuals from competing entities. Just last week, it was reported that Apple had hired Virginia Tech professor and noted VR expert Doug Bowman.
Bowman will likely join the secret team working on VR and AR concepts, which is rumored to consist of hundreds of employees. It’s unknown how much of that number consists of individuals brought in via the acquisition of companies like FlyBy Media and FaceShift.
It’s difficult to predict whether or not we’ll ever see any commercially released products emerge from Apple’s research and development in this field. A company like this is always wise to dabble with technology that could prove to be a game-changer — but it seems likely that Apple will wait for others to find success before playing its hand. After all, Apple is known for holding back until it has a polished product. It sat on the sidelines while Samsung and other Android Wear partners launched smartwatch after smartwatch before it finally jumped in with the Apple Watch.