There are rumours, discussions, patents and some insider stories about Apple secretly working on Augmented and Virtual Reality projects for a long time. With some of the quotes from Tim Cook, it confirms that Augmented Reality seems to be Apple’s next big reality in the market. You need to wait and watch to see how much of that gets revealed in iPhone 8! The freelance websites and news pages are suddenly discussing this topic showing some factor of reality.
Virtual Reality (VR):
The VR devices are headsets worn like glasses, but with a 3D image generation screen inside. The headset can track your head movement, and the images move accordingly. It gives you a feeling that you are inside the virtual world. The virtual reality games were very new in 1990, but now the technology has settled in the market. The Rift developer Oculus VR was acquired by Facebook in 2014 as an effort to enter into the VR and 3D world.
Augmented Reality (AR):
Everyone had heard of the “Pokémon GO” Augmented Reality Game and even before that the Google Glass was famous. Microsoft entered this world in for an upcoming product called as Hololens. AR is a direct or indirect view of a real-world but supplemented by sound, video, graphics or GPS data. AR is a real-time phenomenon. The applications have a wide spread from military to health care and mainly entertainment! It overlays digital content through the phone’s camera view.
What is Apple doing in AR space?
A news channel recently mentioned that Apple might have over 1,000 engineers working on a project in Israel that could be related to AR. Apple CEO Tim Cook was quoted to be mentioning that AR is a big thing for Apple in future. Tim agrees that Apple is high on AR in the long run.
It is very likely that Apple has been working on VR and AR technologies for more than ten years. With the popularity of AR and VR in recent years, Apple is getting more serious about this business to extend the life of their digital devices and keep users interested in buying new devices.
The project will be definitely about the implementation of these technologies in iPhone and iPad. Apple is also said to be planning to incorporate augmented reality into the iPhone’s camera app. They may use this technology in their ongoing car project.
Pointers which shows Apple’s interest in AR:
Apple’s latest hiring:
There are rumours about Apple having a secret lab comprising hundreds of software engineers working on AR and VR. The VR/AR hiring in Apple has ramped up suggesting the rumour could be a reality. You will observe that when the big companies start hiring for a particular technology, as an effect, you see in increase in freelance jobs also.
AR Learning and Experiments:
Some of the leading news agencies stated in the last couple of days that Apple is taking a keen interest in Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab. They are sending their employees to visit the facility at regularly. Employees are also known to put through considerable VR experiences, including a project that teaches understanding through forced perspective VR interventions.
Apple has made some acquisitions in the AR/VR space hinting more involvement in this area. Apple purchased Emotient which is a company who builds tools for facial expression analysis. They acquired Flyby Media in 2016 who has focused on AR projects. They also acquired motion capture specialist Faceshift.
The acquisition of German AR firm Metaio in 2015 is a big thing for Apple in the AR world. Their software melds the physical world and computer-generated elements into video displays. PrimeSense, acquisition in 2013 is important for their focus on 3D sensing technology that is likely to be there in the iPhone 8 design.
In the last week of Jan’17, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published a series of 45 granted patents for Apple Inc. Apple’s patents gained by acquiring Metaio in 2015 are critical to AR. With over ten years of experience in AR, Metaio serves over 100,000 developers with more than a thousand published apps. In total, Metaio’s AR software reaches over 30 Million consumers around the world. The Metaio team mentioned in their patent that smartphones, Audio Guides, and similar information systems have become popular in recent years.
Apple’s patent is also related to a wearable information system having at least one camera. This system operation is possible in a low-power mode and a high power mode. The information system configuration is such that the high-power mode is activated by a detection of at least one object in at least one field of view of the at least one camera.
Another advantage of the invention is related to the reaction time for applications, like indoor navigation. The user can activate the system if lost and the system will provide navigational information as to where they are on a map.
The future of Apple AR:
Apple’s inventions and research seem to be revolving around iPhone. Any new product outside iPhone or which can’t enhance iPhone can be a distraction from the primary focus. Apple has a guarantee about their involvement (and large investments) in AR. Bringing a new product for AR in the market may have a major negative effect on the iPhone market. So it makes perfect sense for Apple to include AR onto the iPhone as a new feature, rather than try to start a fresh product line.
If Apple has to bump up the iPhone sales again and bring back the phone to centre stage, they need a new product! The AR wearables are what the kids are demanding and enjoying, but it moves the focus away from existing products, and this might not be such a clever move. Apple wants people to be buying iPhones since that’s where the company’s biggest revenue comes from and including AR on the iPhone will increase the sale as well as it will provide an opportunity for a whole new line of apps and accessories.