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 newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Apple

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

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?