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Apple Has A Secret Team That’s Building Its Own Virtual Reality Headset: Report

30 January 2016, 9:45 am EST By Vincent Lanaria Tech Times
Apple has put together a secret team of virtual and augmented reality experts to create its own headset that can compete with the HoloLens and Oculus Rift, to name a few. The Cupertino brand has recently acquired the augmented reality startup Flyby Media, boosting its efforts in the growing sector.  ( Peter Macdiarmid | Getty Images )

To compete with the likes of Microsoft and Facebook on the virtual reality field, Apple has formed a secret team of virtual and augmented reality professionals to develop a headset that can penetrate the growing sector.

The group consists of hundreds of skilled individuals that came from well-planned-out acquisitions, including specialists poached from select companies such as the camera startup Lytro and even Microsoft.

According to the Financial Times, the Cupertino brand has now acquired the augmented reality startup Flyby Media, whose team collaborated with Google for the 3D positioning technology in Project Tango. This comes on the heels of the company hiring virtual reality expert Doug Bowman, who is believed to be able to step up the Cupertino brand's progress on the platform.

"It is really cool and has some interesting applications," Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, says about the technology.

It could be argued that the company's seemingly revitalized effort in broadening its scope beyond the iPhone, iPad and whatnot is because of the declining sales of the popular Apple smartphone. More to the point, its interest on the technology mainly stemmed from the materialization of the Oculus Rift, which Facebook acquired back in 2014 for $2 billion.

Moving forward, Apple is said to be already working on several prototypes of its own brand of virtual reality headset for several months now, but the specifics aren't clear yet. For instance, there are still no details that indicate whether it will be a headset that'll require another device to function such as the Samsung Gear VR and Google Cardboard, or an independent headset similar to the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.

For the record, this isn't the first time that the company dabbled in the virtual reality scene. Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs ventured into the technology back in the mid-2000s, and he employed a small team of experts to develop prototypes, filing various patents as well. However, his plans didn't pan out because the technology was considered too "immature" at the time, the Financial Times reported.

This time around, Cook seems to be deeply engaged and more than determined to get Apple's virtual reality ambitions off the ground. As evidence to that statement, Apple acquired PrimeSense back in 2013, which is a company that had a hand in developing Microsoft's Kinect motion device.

Furthermore, the company also purchased the augmented-reality-focused German firm Metaio and Faceshift in 2015, where the latter is known to have created the motion capture technology used for the animated avatars in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."

"Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans," an Apple spokesperson says, as if repeating a well-rehearsed spiel once again. When the Cupertino brand gives this statement, it essentially confirms that it has acquired yet another company.

It was expected for Apple to give little or no details about its intentions to delve into other areas of the technology industry, but as the recent developments suggest, the company is looking into earning a strong position on another platform.  

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