Apple's latest acquisitions and hires spark rumours of new AR and VR devices

There is new speculation that Apple has already started work on a virtual or augmented reality headset to challenge the likes of Facebook's Oculus Rift and Microsoft's HoloLens. It is believed that Apple has been working on devices for several months and has a secret research unit consisting of hundreds of staff from small VR companies that Apple has acquired, as well as employees from other companies such as Microsoft that had been working on VR technologies.

To add credence to the claims made by the Financial Times, Tim Cook - Apple CEO - said that he doesn't think that virtual reality is a niche and believes it "has some interesting applications." The comments came during a quarterly earnings call earlier this week.

Flyby Media was the latest company snapped up by the tech giant. Flyby worked with Google on the latter's Project Tango which aimed to give mobile devices "a human-scale understanding of space and motion." Commenting on its purchase, Apple said it "buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans."

In addition to acquiring Flyby, Apple recently hired Doug Bowman who is a leader in virtual reality research. Bowman worked as a computer science professor at Virginia Tech, where he was director of the university's human-computer interaction centre for several years.

Only time will tell whether Apple does finally release a headset, if its track record is anything to go by, it will likely be the company to galvanize virtual and augmented reality technology, as it did with smartphones and tablets.

Source: FT (paywall) via Phys | Image via Microsoft

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