It’s not every day that we see a post-Steve Jobs Apple take risks on a technology that hasn’t yet proven its viability on the market. That’s why it may come as a shock that the Cupertino computing company just hired VR expert Doug Bowman, according to a Financial Times report.
Previously serving as a computer science professor and director of the Center for Human-Computer Interaction at Virginia Tech, Bowman’s expertise lies in 3D interaction, immersive environments, and usability engineering. Notably, he was also one of several winners of a $100,000 grant and HoloLens kit issued by Microsoft last November.
“It’s a no-brainer for Apple to invest in this area,” responded CCS Insight analyst Ben Wood. “It certainly can’t let rivals such as Facebook, Google and Samsung run away with the market, particularly given the momentum building around smartphone-based virtual reality.”
While this news does indicate that Apple is starting to take its interest in VR in a more serious direction, it’s far from the first time we’ve heard about it. In fact, just last May, Apple purchased augmented reality company Metaio and, at separate times last year, Faceshift and Emotient.
Still, with VR so prominently embraced by companies like Microsoft, Facebook, Sony, and Google right now, Apple sitting back and observing the fates of these investments wouldn’t be the most proactive decision. At the very least, we can all safely agree that Apple is at least interested in VR even if we have no idea what it’s actually working on with Bowman.
It will be interesting to see if, alongside other consumer HMDs like Oculus Rift and Google Cardboard, an Apple VR headset emerges from the shadows and takes the world by storm — or if the project ends up to be a phantom, like the Apple television that has been rumored for years, but never officially announced.