With all of the declarations of augmented reality and virtual reality’s inevitable ascents to the heights of technological cruciality, Apple has managed to stay noticeably quiet on the topic. This has led to any VR/AR movement on their end being quite notable.
According to a report from the Financial Times, Apple just hired a top AR/VR specialist to join their team. Doug Bowman, a man who quite literally wrote the book on 3D interfaces (he was the lead author of 3D User Interfaces: Theory and Practice), will be joining the Cupertino-based tech giant following a sabbatical from his position as a professor of Computer Science and the Director of the Center for Human-Computer Interaction at Virginia Tech. He also served as the general chair of the IEEE Virtual Reality Conference in 2007-2008 according to his Virginia Tech bio.
Bowman, who has been employed by Virginia Tech since 1999, has published and collaborated on numerous articles relating to augmented reality and virtual reality including, “Virtual Reality: How Much Immersion Is Enough?,” “3D User Interfaces: New Directions and Perspectives,” and “The Effects of Visual Realism on Search Tasks in Mixed Reality Simulation.”
A particularly interesting tidbit from the FT’s report involves his being the recipient of one of the first $100,000 HoloLens research grants from Microsoft for a study on “collaborative analysis of large-scale mixed reality data.”
A quick scour of his CV indicates a laundry list of impressive accomplishments in the field of AR/VR research that will undoubtedly prove useful to Apple which has, in the very least, indicated interest in the AR/VR space. He also details that his research interests include three-dimensional user interfaces, virtual environments, virtual reality, augmented reality and human-computer interaction.
Unlike its competitors, including Google, Facebook (Oculus), Samsung and HTC, Apple has yet to formally announce any serious hardware or software efforts in the virtual/augmented reality field, though patent applications and their 360-degree videos certainly show that they’ve been experimenting with it. Positing what AR/VR pursuits could be next for Apple would just be simple speculation, but it will certainly be interesting to see what comes of hires like this in the future.