Apple has assembled a large team of experts in virtual and augmented reality and built prototypes of headsets that could one day rival Facebook’s Oculus Rift or Microsoft’s Hololens, the Financial Times reported.
A secret research unit, housing hundreds of staff assembled from acquisitions or poached from other companies, is working on next-generation headset technologies, the FT reported, citing people familiar with the initiative.
The newspaper had previously reported the hiring of leading virtual reality researcher Doug Bowman by the iPhone maker.
At the Q1 earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook was also asked about virtual reality and whether the company was interested in the field. While he did not divulge any details, the Apple CEO had said that he did not think Virtual Reality was a ‘niche field’.
“I don’t think it’s a niche,” he had said. “It’s really cool. It has some interesting applications.” While Apple’s VR plans has come to light for the first time, other tech giants have been open about their VR ambitions for some time now.
Rival tech companies like Google, Microsoft have already indicated that they are taking Virtual Reality seriously. While Google recently said it shipped over 5 million of its VR Cardboard headsets, it also has a dedicated VR unit. Microsoft, on its part, has been working its HoloLens, which can project interactive holograms in a space.
Facebook-owned Oculus just shipped the Samsung Gear VR headset, which is the first consumer ready mobile VR device.
With Reuters inputs