Apple pushes into virtual reality by hiring top researcher

Apple is getting more serious about virtual reality, hiring the head of Virginia Tech's Center for Human-Computer Interaction.

Apple has lured a top virtual reality researcher away from Virginia Tech, according to the Financial Times. The move could give Apple a chance to catch up with rivals Samsung Electronics, Microsoft, Google and Facebook, which have all made plays in the virtual reality field.

The researcher, Doug Bowman, had been a professor of computer science at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and director of its Center for Human-Computer Interaction. He recently joined Apple after a short sabbatical, the Financial Times reported.

Bowman worked on three-dimensional user interface design in academia, looking at the benefits of immersion in virtual environments, and led the 3D interaction group.

Only a few months ago, Bowman and a colleague won a US$100,000 research award from Microsoft to study the collaborative analysis of large-scale mixed-reality data using that company's Hololens virtual reality headset.

Facebook bought its way into virtual reality research with the $2 billion acquisition of Oculus VR, at a stroke transforming the Oculus Rift headset from a gaming peripheral into something much bigger.

Samsung's pitch is the Gear VR headset, which it expects will be used to view movies and games running on its flagship smartphones. It uses some Oculus technology.

While Google's high-tech Glass headset got a lot of attention, it wasn't a virtual reality device, providing only a small window of information overlaid on one eye's view of actual reality. The company's VR play is a distinctly low-budget affair, a cardboard blindfold into which you can slide a smartphone. By splitting the screen and displaying different images in front of each eye, apps can create stereoscopic virtual reality imagery.

Compared to even to that low-tech approach, though, Apple appears to be still in the starting blocks.

Last February the company was granted a patent on what looks like a VR headset that it filed for back in 2008, but so far the closest thing to that on the market is a Viewmaster headset for the iPhone from Mattel, a throwback to the stereoscopic slideshow toys older readers may have played with as children.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Apple

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Peter Sayer

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?