Not to be outdone by the VR efforts from Google and Facebook, Apple has reportedly assembled a specialist team of its own to explore the medium.
The team already consists of “hundreds” of people working on specialist augmented and virtual-related projects, according to the Financial Times. It’s apparently staffed by leading experts in the field such as former members of the Microsoft Hololens team and those who helped build Lytro’s light field camera.
Unsurprisingly, Apple hasn’t confirmed the division’s existence though it does seem likely given recent investments. A secret VR division at the Cupertino based firm would explain why it acquired augmented reality startup Flyby earlier this month and recently hired Doug Bowman, who is one of the foremost figures in the field of augmented reality tech.
The prospect of virtual experiences from Apple was further teased earlier this week when chief executive Tim Cook dismissed the idea of it being a “niche” and is instead “really cool and has some interesting applications”.
The claim led many media outlets to draw the conclusion that VR is in Apple's sights. Given Apple’s movement into services through platforms like Apple TV and the App Store, VR could turn out to be another way to accelerate the transition and consequently make it less reliant on iPhone sales for growth.
While costs, a lack of content and clunky tech mean its unlikely VR will go mainstream this year, Google and Facebook already see enough early potential to explore it further through Cardboard and Oculus Rift respectively.