Following iPhone maker’s recent virtual reality-themed acquisitions rumor has it that Apple may be quietly building its own VR headset.
According to a recent report, on Friday, the tech giant purchased Flyby Media, a mobile app startup specialized in 3-D perception. The firm has been a longtime partner of Google in a project designed to implement 3-D mapping technology in mobile devices.
But this is not the first time Apple invests some cash in a company that fringes the virtual reality domain. Three years ago, the company bought PrimeSense, a tech company that develops 3-D sensing software. Additionally, Apple bought two other augmented reality startups, Faceshift and Metaio, last year.
Still, besides buying tech firms, Apple is also on a hiring spree. Reportedly it has lured in VR researchers and computer scientists from Microsoft and top universities including Virginia Tech. Other reports show that it even hired experts from the MS division that has built the HoloLens VR goggles.
Moreover, Apple also hired nearly two dozen technicians from Lytro, a startup interested in developing light field cameras by understanding how light rays interact with objects.
So, apparently Apple is at least exploring the augmented reality area. But the competition is fierce: Google recently announced that it began working on its first VR headset, while other tech industry players such as Facebook, Microsoft, and Samsung have already developed the gadgets and are constantly improving them.
Reportedly, Microsoft has a team of 1,000 VR specialists that take care of its virtual reality headset. In the meantime, Apple managed to attract only 100 experts. The lack of interest in the domain may be linked to the fact that the iPhone manufacturer had experimented with virtual reality long before its rivals but the project was a failure and had to be abandoned.
According to another report, Apple may already have prototypes of a VR headset, which doesn’t imply that a commercially viable device would soon hit the shelves. Nevertheless, the company’s recent experiments may stem from the widespread interest in VR and AR as a niche for phone makers to gain an edge against competition.
That’s the idea that Google has been touting through its Project Tango, which plans to bring maps with 3-D representations of locations to mobile phones. The web search giant said that Lenovo would roll out a handset equipped with the new feature by the end of the year.
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