Apple has hired a top virtual reality researcher as it continues to slowly ramp up its focus on the field.
Doug Bowman was previously a professor computer science as well as director of the Center for Human-Computer Interaction at Virginia Tech. While there, he was the principal investigator of the 3D Interaction Group, focusing on the benefits of immersion in virtual environments.
He is also the lead author of the book 3D User Interfaces: Theory and Practice, and received a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation for his work on 3D Interaction, before taking a sabbatical.
Apple has been investigating virtual reality for at least a decade, despite not being as public about its research as companies like Google or the Oculus-owning Facebook.
Back in November 2006, the company filed a patent for an HMD (head-mounted display) system, which created images using a remote laser light engine. Unlike previous designs for HMDs , Apple’s system was more compact, while providing superior image quality.
Apple then expanded on this concept with a more comprehensive 2008 patent for a pair of Apple goggles, designed to let users view media and play games on a bigger screen than their mobile device’s built-in display.
Since then, Apple has continued to iterate on these concepts — although there has been no public release yet. Perhaps this latest hiring suggests that could be about to change?