According to a new report out of the Financial Times, Apple has hired one of the top virtual reality researchers in the United States to expedite its efforts in the platform. The report claims that Apple has recently hired Doug Bowman, who most recently was a computer science professor at Virginia Tech before taking a sabbatical. At Virginia Tech, he was the director of the university’s human-computer interaction center for around five years.
Bowman touts that he has focused his research on “three-dimensional user interface design and the benefits of immersion in virtual environments.” He has experience in both fully immersive virtual reality, such as the tech used HTC’s Vive and Google Cardboard, as well as augmented reality like the tech used in Google Glass.
Apple has made a handful of acquisitions in the virtual reality market over recent years. The company has also filed for several patents relating to virtual reality environments, and posted several job listings relating to the technology. Most recently, Apple acquired Emotient, a company focused on facial expression and emotion section technology. Last November, Apple purchased Faceshift, the company responsible for the motion capture technology used in Star Wars. Early last year, the company acquired Metaio, a startup that specialized in applications relating to augmented reality.
Many argue that Apple is lagging behind in terms of virtual and augmented reality software. Five years ago, Apple lost one of its top augmented reality employees to Google. It still remains to be seen what the company has in store for the virtual reality technology, but with the amount of hires and acquisitions it has been making in the area, it’s clear something is being worked on. Earlier rumors have claimed that Apple was planning to integrate augmented reality into the Apple TV, although no developments have been made on that.