As Apple continues to ramp up its focus on augmented reality, the company has recently hired a specialist from NASA for its efforts. According to a new report from Bloomberg, Apple has hired Jeff Norris, a specialist in new technology at NASA…
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The report cites “people familiar with the matter” and says that Norris joined Apple earlier this year, working as senior manager on the company’s augmented reality team.
At NASA, Norris founded the Mission Operations Innovation Office of its Jet Propulsion Lab. Here, he led efforts to “create new ways to control spacecraft and robots in space with virtual and augmented reality.” As part of these efforts, Norris issued headsets to scientists on the ground so they could experience live Mars images.
When he first joined NASA in 1999, Norris helped create software for controlling Mars exploration rovers from the ground.
Apple has been ramping up its own augmented reality efforts. In March of 2015, the company hired Mike Rockwell, Dolby’s technology chief, to bolster audio and display technologies. Now, Rockwell heads Apple’s augmented reality team. Apple has also made a number of other notable hires and acquisitions in the space, most recently Apple hired the developer responsible for a number of virtual reality plugins for Final Cut Pro.
It has been reported in the past that Apple is working on a pair of augmented reality glasses that could launch as soon as 2018. While specifics about this effort are unclear, a recently leaked document suggested that the glasses are in the testing phase at Apple. Meanwhile, a separate report claimed that Apple has at least 1,000 engineers working on an augmented reality project.
Tim Cook has spoken fondly of augmented reality in the past, notably praising the technology on numerous different occasions. It has also been reported that augmented reality could be a headlining feature of this year’s iPhone 8, but again, specific information regarding its implementation is unclear.
Tim Cook earlier this year:
I regard it as a big idea like the smartphone. The smartphone is for everyone, we don’t have to think the iPhone is about a certain demographic, or country or vertical market: it’s for everyone. I think AR is that big, it’s huge.
While we still lack quite a bit of specific information about Apple’s augmented reality efforts, it’s clear the company has quite a bit up its sleeve in regards to the technology.