Apple isn’t sitting idly on the sidelines when it comes to Virtual Reality.
The company hasn’t shown much interest in entering the VR market to take on Facebook, Sony, Google, HTC, and Samsung, but according to a new report, Apple has secretly formed a huge team of experts that are exploring product ideas.
The secret research unit is comprised of hundreds of engineers and experts investigating both virtual reality and augmented reality, reports The Financial Times. Some of the new employees include key hires from Microsoft’s Hololens team and Lytro.
Doug Bowman, a top virtual reality professor from Virginia Tech whose speciality is VR immersion and 3D interfaces theory, was also recently hired by Apple. The secret team has been building VR headsets for months, but it’s unclear whether they’ve come up with a specific product idea yet.
Tim Cook gave the biggest hint yet this week that Apple is interested in VR. During the company’s earnings call, the Apple CEO told investors that he doesn’t think VR is a ‘niche’ category. “I think it’s really cool and has some interesting applications,” said Cook.
Early prototypes of Apple’s VR headset reportedly looks like it was inspired by the Oculus Rift. Multiple other prototypes have also been created with some resembling Microsoft’s Hololens.
Along with hiring a bunch of VR experts, Apple has made multiple acquisitions recently of companies that specializes in VR or AR. The company just purchased Flyby Media to go with other acquisitions like Metaio, Faceshift, PrimeSense and Emotient. The company is allegedly still looking for acquisitions in optical technologies to help finish the project.