Apple And Google Ramp Up VR Ambitions


Paul Lamkin, Contributor

January 29, 2016

2016 is the year in which virtual reality is set to explode in popularity, with the consumer releases of the Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR and HTC Vive all set to take place in the coming months.

And it looks as if tech’s two biggest names, Apple and Google, could be set to join the party. There have been a few interesting developments over the last few days that seem to indicate that the duo are getting their VR houses in order.

Firstly, Doug Bowman, Professor of Computer Science and Director of the Center for Human-Computer Interaction at Virginia Tech, has joined Apple. As well as co-authoring 3D User Interfaces: Theory and Practice, Bowman also received a Microsoft HoloLens Academic Research Grant Award in late 2015. In other words, he knows his VR and AR stuff.

There’s no official word on what he’ll be doing at Apple exactly but, according to Tim Cook – speaking during the Cupertino company’s latest earnings call – VR is definitely a category he considers mainstream.

“In terms of virtual reality, I don’t think it’s a niche. I think it can be… it’s really cool, and has some interesting applications,” he said.

That’s not exactly a “we’re making a VR headset” admission, we know – although the comment has got the tech blogs worked up into a state of excitement.

Apple has dipped its toes in VR already. Back in October it worked with VR production studio VRSE, to create a virtual reality music video experience for U2’s Song for Someone to promote Apple Music.

Down the road in Mountain View, Google is advertising a number of VR-themed roles, including a hardware engineering technical leader manager.

“As the Hardware Engineering Technical Lead Manager for the consumer hardware products, you will drive the design and execution of our ever increasing product portfolio,” reads the description.

The adverts also include an electrical hardware engineer and PCB layout engineer, with the former to “lead electrical hardware development for consumer electronic products from concept into production.”

If that’s not a major hint that the search giant is looking to get into the VR hardware space, then we don’t know what is. The company already has its popular Google Cardboard platform, of course; a low-cost mobile VR experience that uses a smartphone to power VR app experiences.

With the likes of Microsoft, Sony, HTC, Facebook, Samsung and Razer already involved in the latest virtual reality revolution, and talk of Apple and Google’s involvement ramping up, it’s not surprising that the market is forecast to explode in popularity in the coming years.

Back in July, CCS Insight published a stating the amount of AR and VR devices sold will rise from 2.5 million in 2015, to a staggering 24 million in 2018.

This article was written by Paul Lamkin from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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