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Apple’s interest in Augmented Reality heats up with two new hires

Published Sep 17th, 2016 11:51AM EDT
Augmented Reality Apple
Image: Apple

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Apple hasn’t exactly been shy about expressing its interest in augmented reality. During an interview earlier this week, Apple CEO Tim Cook plainly stated that he sees a lot more promise in augmented reality than in virtual reality.

“There’s virtual reality and there’s augmented reality,” Cook said while appearing on Good Morning America.  “Both of these are incredibly interesting. My own view is that augmented reality is the larger of the two, probably by far, because this gives the capability for both of us to sit and be very present talking to each other, but also have other things visually for both of us to see.”

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“Maybe it’s something we’re talking about,” Cook added, “maybe it’s someone else here that is not here, present, but could be made to appear to be present with us. So there’s a lot of really cool things there.”

In light of Cook’s intriguing remarks regarding Augmented Reality, Business Insider recently discovered that Apple has been making some interesting hires as of late. According to the report, Apple in recent months hired Zeyu Li, a vision algorithm engineer from Augmented Reality-focused startup Magic Leap.

Additionally, Apple recently brought Yury Petrov on board as a research scientist. With a strong background in both Physics and Mathematics, Petrov previously spent two and a half years working as a research scientist for Occulus VR. Notably, Petrov’s LinkedIn profile reads, “I am a specialist in experimental psychology, human vision, optics for head-mounted displays, brain imaging, and mathematical methods of signal processing and analysis.”

Speaking to Apple’s growing interest in AR, a Financial Times report from this past January relayed that Apple has been quietly assembling a sizable and impressive team of engineers and researchers with deep experience in both virtual and augmented reality.

The secret research unit includes hundreds of staff from a series of carefully targeted acquisitions, as well as employees poached from companies that are working on next-generation headset technologies including Microsoft and camera start-up Lytro, according to people familiar with the initiative.

The company’s latest acquisition in the area is Flyby Media, an augmented reality start-up that uses let mobile devices “see” the world around them. Fly-by’s team worked closely with Google in developing software for its 3D positioning technology Project Tango.

As a final point, it’s worth pointing out that Apple in early 2016 hired Doug Bowman, largely considered to be one of the foremost Virtual Reality experts in the world.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.