Apple has become a regular at Stanford University's VR lab

Posted:
in General Discussion edited February 2016
Amid rumors claiming Apple is investing heavily in virtual and augmented reality solutions, it was revealed on Tuesday that the company has taken a recent interest in Stanford University's Virtual Human Interaction Lab, sending representatives to visit the facility three times in as many months.




Founding director Jeremy Bailenson told The Wall Street Journal that Apple's recent visits were the first since the lab was founded in 2003. Bailenson was on hand at the 2016 CIO Network conference.

"Apple hasn't come to my lab in 13 years, except they've come three times in the last three months," he said. "They come and they don't say a word, but there's a data point for you."

The Apple reps were put through immersive VR experiences, Bailenson said, mentioning a project that aims to teach empathy through forced perspective virtual reality interventions. For example, a male subject entering the VR world might be given a female persona and exposed to prejudice.

Another of Bailenson's projects teaches sustainable behaviors like reducing paper use and saving hot water. Stanford's team is not only pushing the boundaries of current VR hardware and software, but is investigating how best to leverage such technology in new and meaningful ways.

As for Apple, the company is widely rumored to be working on its own consumer VR solution to rival hardware from the likes of Facebook's Oculus. The VR space is heating up with Oculus Rift and HTC Vive set to ship this year, to be followed by Sony's PlayStation VR and Microsoft's Hololens projects.

Apple's plans for VR are largely unknown, but the company has filed numerous patent covering virtual displays, augmented reality, computer vision and other related technologies. Hard evidence of AR/VR systems development came last year when Apple purchased German AR firm Metaio, real-time motion capture specialists Faceshift and computer vision startup Perceptio.

More recently, Apple hired Doug Bowman, a top researcher in the VR field, and is said to have "hundreds" of employees working on secret virtual and augmented reality projects.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 19
    cnocbuicnocbui Posts: 3,613member
    "As for Apple, the company is widely rumored to be working on its own consumer VR solution to rival hardware from the likes of Facebook's Oculus. The VR space is heating up with Oculus Rift and HTC Vive set to ship this year, to be followed by Sony's PlayStation VR and Microsoft's Hololens projects."

    I like the way you avoided mentioning that Samsung have had the only real VR system actually on the market and that it's been there for almost a year.  Oh I know, you forgot.
    cornchip
  • Reply 2 of 19
    mr. hmr. h Posts: 4,698member
    cnocbui said:
    I like the way you avoided mentioning that Samsung have had the only real VR system actually on the market and that it's been there for almost a year.  Oh I know, you forgot.
    When has Apple ever been first to market with anything? First != best, and first != most innovative.

    Oh, and am I the only one who really isn't excited about any of this?
    cornchip
  • Reply 3 of 19
    irelandireland Posts: 17,547member
    For reference, Apple has 600 employees who work on iPhone cameras.
    edited February 2016 cornchip
  • Reply 4 of 19
    irelandireland Posts: 17,547member
    mr. h said:

    Oh, and am I the only one who really isn't excited about any of this?
    I'm not excited about it either. My interest in VR is as big as my interest in 3D TV: non-existent. Different things excite me. When Apple opens its street view that'd be interesting, if it included augmented signage that'd be interesting, if they fixed corrections more quickly that'd be interesting. If they lower the price of iPads and iPhones. Now, that'd be exciting.
    edited February 2016 cornchip
  • Reply 5 of 19
    ireland said:
    mr. h said:

    Oh, and am I the only one who really isn't excited about any of this?
    I'm not excited about it either. My interest in VR is as big as my interest in 3D TV: non-existent. Different things excite me. When Apple opens its street view that'd be interesting, if it included augmented signage that'd be interesting, if they fixed corrections more quickly that'd be interesting. If they lower the price of iPads and iPhones. Now, that'd be exciting.
    Count me among those who lived through the VR push in the 90's and who are still unimpressed today. There's a lot of "dog chasing its own tail" that goes on in every industry. No one wants to get left behind, so everyone copies everyone.
    edited February 2016 awilliams87calicornchip
  • Reply 6 of 19
    ireland said:
    I'm not excited about it either. My interest in VR is as big as my interest in 3D TV: non-existent. Different things excite me. When Apple opens its street view that'd be interesting, if it included augmented signage that'd be interesting, if they fixed corrections more quickly that'd be interesting. If they lower the price of iPads and iPhones. Now, that'd be exciting.
    Count me among those who lived through the VR push in the 90's and who are still unimpressed today. There's a lot of "dog chasing its own tail" that goes on in every industry. No one wants to get left behind, so everyone copies everyone.
    Ditto. But I don't think Apple will be making VR headsets. I'd bet your life that they're working on AR for the iPhone/iPad, but I definitely wouldn't be surprised to see it in the iMac or the rumored Apple car.
    edited February 2016 cornchip
  • Reply 7 of 19
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    ireland said:
    mr. h said:

    Oh, and am I the only one who really isn't excited about any of this?
    I'm not excited about it either. My interest in VR is as big as my interest in 3D TV: non-existent. Different things excite me. When Apple opens its street view that'd be interesting, if it included augmented signage that'd be interesting, if they fixed corrections more quickly that'd be interesting. If they lower the price of iPads and iPhones. Now, that'd be exciting.
    But, VR is related in Augmented Reality, and that IS exciting, it's also related to 3D mapping the visual, audio, sensory environment (textures, odors, pressures, heat, cold) (that's useful for cars, VR, AR, 3D printing, etc). The interface itself may not even be eyes, but a direct link to the brain... That's may be fantastic.
  • Reply 8 of 19
    foggyhill said:
    ireland said:
    I'm not excited about it either. My interest in VR is as big as my interest in 3D TV: non-existent. Different things excite me. When Apple opens its street view that'd be interesting, if it included augmented signage that'd be interesting, if they fixed corrections more quickly that'd be interesting. If they lower the price of iPads and iPhones. Now, that'd be exciting.
    But, VR is related in Augmented Reality, and that IS exciting, it's also related to 3D mapping the visual, audio, sensory environment (textures, odors, pressures, heat, cold) (that's useful for cars, VR, AR, 3D printing, etc). The interface itself may not even be eyes, but a direct link to the brain... That's may be fantastic.
    LOL. No. Something like that would be decades off, if ever.
    cornchip
  • Reply 9 of 19
    josujosu Posts: 217member
    mr. h said:
    cnocbui said:
    I like the way you avoided mentioning that Samsung have had the only real VR system actually on the market and that it's been there for almost a year.  Oh I know, you forgot.
    When has Apple ever been first to market with anything? First != best, and first != most innovative.

    Oh, and am I the only one who really isn't excited about any of this?
    No. But probably VR is not a consumer product, more a business related one, think about watching your house finished in the lot with all the detail, so you can decide early how to decorate, where to install the sockets, being able to see the detailed blueprints of a house so a plumber can see all the plumbing before opening anything, or an electrician where all the wiring is, etc. ditto for manufacturing, designing, etc. In business can be big. Also in health, training surgeons before a very complex procedure. There is a big place for this kind of tech. 
    edited February 2016 cornchippalomine
  • Reply 10 of 19
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    foggyhill said:
    But, VR is related in Augmented Reality, and that IS exciting, it's also related to 3D mapping the visual, audio, sensory environment (textures, odors, pressures, heat, cold) (that's useful for cars, VR, AR, 3D printing, etc). The interface itself may not even be eyes, but a direct link to the brain... That's may be fantastic.
    LOL. No. Something like that would be decades off, if ever.
    I didn't say it would be close, but when that occur, and it will occur, VR will be less than a fad.

  • Reply 11 of 19
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    cnocbui said:
    "As for Apple, the company is widely rumored to be working on its own consumer VR solution to rival hardware from the likes of Facebook's Oculus. The VR space is heating up with Oculus Rift and HTC Vive set to ship this year, to be followed by Sony's PlayStation VR and Microsoft's Hololens projects."

    I like the way you avoided mentioning that Samsung have had the only real VR system actually on the market and that it's been there for almost a year.  Oh I know, you forgot.
    The Korean counterfeit company deserves ZERO respect.
    latifbpSpamSandwich
  • Reply 12 of 19
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,509member
    josu said:
    mr. h said:
    When has Apple ever been first to market with anything? First != best, and first != most innovative.

    Oh, and am I the only one who really isn't excited about any of this?
    No. But probably VR is not a consumer product, more a business related one, think about watching your house finished in the lot with all the detail, so you can decide early how to decorate, where to install the sockets, being able to see the detailed blueprints of a house so a plumber can see all the plumbing before opening anything, or an electrician where all the wiring is, etc. ditto for manufacturing, designing, etc. In business can be big. Also in health, training surgeons before a very complex procedure. There is a big place for this kind of tech. 
    This is the correct view of VR, AR and 3D. All are serious extensions and amplifications of our senses. If we are able to do it, we should pursue it to see where it leads.

    If some people are not along for the ride at first, fine, they can stay hypnotized in front of their flat TV screens.
  • Reply 13 of 19
    cnocbuicnocbui Posts: 3,613member
    mr. h said:
    cnocbui said:
    I like the way you avoided mentioning that Samsung have had the only real VR system actually on the market and that it's been there for almost a year.  Oh I know, you forgot.
    When has Apple ever been first to market with anything? First != best, and first != most innovative.

    Oh, and am I the only one who really isn't excited about any of this?
    First does = innovative, it's the very definition of the word.  Anyway, Samsung are only first in the context of current VR.  Olympus came out with the very innovative eye-trek last century.  I wasn't excited by VR -  I have my doubts, but looking at that 15 camera 360° capture device Samsung announced; if they use it for a tele-prescence capability I think that would have huge potential and i could get excited about that if the experience is high quality.
    edited February 2016
  • Reply 14 of 19
    mr. hmr. h Posts: 4,698member
    cnocbui said:
    mr. h said:
    When has Apple ever been first to market with anything? First != best, and first != most innovative.

    Oh, and am I the only one who really isn't excited about any of this?
    First does = innovative, it's the very definition of the word.
    I said *most* innovative. Of course first is by definition innovative.
  • Reply 15 of 19
    badmonkbadmonk Posts: 775member
    empathy building, hot water conservation, sustainable behaviors?...VR will ultimately degenerate to porn.
  • Reply 16 of 19
    mr. h said:
    cnocbui said:
    I like the way you avoided mentioning that Samsung have had the only real VR system actually on the market and that it's been there for almost a year.  Oh I know, you forgot.
    When has Apple ever been first to market with anything? First != best, and first != most innovative.

    Oh, and am I the only one who really isn't excited about any of this?
    That wasn't the point and you know it. The point was this fellow mentioning Oculus Rift and HTC Vive (which aren't even on the market yet) but not Samsung Gear VR - or for that matter Google Cardboard - which have been on the market for over a year for the former and is approaching 2 years for the latter. It is petty and childish. So is the claim "this does not interest me ... it is a fad" claims when the (Android) competition comes out with new products or wrinkles. Bigger screens, wearables, set top boxes with app stores and gaming, split screen multi-tasking, stylus support, 2-in-1s, NFC, biometrics were all the same too ... until Apple came out with their own iterations a little while later. Meanwhile, 3D force touch? Oooh, now that is a groundbreaking development that is going to change the way we work and live! Again, petty and childish.
  • Reply 17 of 19
    mr. hmr. h Posts: 4,698member
    bulldogs said:

    It is petty and childish. So is the claim "this does not interest me ... it is a fad" claims when the (Android) competition comes out with new products or wrinkles. Bigger screens, wearables, set top boxes with app stores and gaming, split screen multi-tasking, stylus support, 2-in-1s, NFC, biometrics were all the same too ... until Apple came out with their own iterations a little while later.
    I will thank you not to put words in my mouth. Of your list, wearables, set top boxes with app stores and gaming, split screen multi-tasking, stylus support, 2-in-1s, NFC, biometrics are all things I thought/think Apple should do, and I’m pleased they’ve finally got around to it in most cases.
    edited February 2016
  • Reply 18 of 19
    In addition ... Google has shipped 5 million cardboard units, and this is without even actually advertising or otherwise promoting them. That doesn't count other products that use the Google Cardboard platform like the original Samsung Galaxy VR (Galaxy Gear V2 2.0 is based on Oculus Rift technology) and the Viewmaster VR. The Google Cardboard app is now at the "5 million - 10 million" download level, and that doesn't include the number of people who have downloaded the app on iOS. Also, you don't actually need the cardboard app to use the VR; all you need to do is download the individual VR apps, of which there are hundreds in the Google Play store, including from Disney, Volvo, Mattel and the New York Times. This means that there could be as many as 10 million VR units out there in the wild with consumers (because Google Cardboard is far from the only product).

     So dismiss it all you want, but it is a viable area that has actual consumer interest that is making money on both the hardware and software side for people. To put it another way ... it was years before there were 5 million Apple TV units in the wild. Apple's offering may be better, but unlike the tablet market, for example (and I would argue the smartphone market to a degree) it is going to join an already commercially viable sector where real innovation is taking place with large players like Facebook (with Oculus), Google, Samsung and Microsoft (who will be giving their HoloLens product a huge push during the Super Bowl) involved with major R&D efforts that are implementing products based on the latest research.
  • Reply 19 of 19
    bulldogs said:
    Apple's offering may be better, but unlike the tablet market, for example (and I would argue the smartphone market to a degree) it is going to join an already commercially viable sector where real innovation is taking place with large players like Facebook (with Oculus), Google, Samsung and Microsoft (who will be giving their HoloLens product a huge push during the Super Bowl) involved with major R&D efforts that are implementing products based on the latest research.
    I agree, and think that VR will be huge, perhaps the "next big thing".  And IMO, Apple is one of the few companies, that can deliver a complete VR platform, not just a VR headset. Let me explain...  I'm envisioning an Apple VR headset (something like Rift), but it will also have two (stereo) cameras on the front. It will be self-contained with no wires, and require no PC. The cameras on the front will allow you to "see" even while wearing the headset. Those cameras will also be able to record VR-video content, and that content will be shareable via VR-video Podcasts. Two people wearing VR headsets will also be able to make VR-Facetime calls that will seem to transport you to the other person's location. Some new xCode APIs will make it easy to adapt any 3D game to this new VR platform. Soon, there will be thousands of (relatively inexpensive, say $10 to $20) VR-games on the Apple-App Store. You will be able to use your iPads or iPhones as your VR game controllers.  And 3D versions of television shows and movies will also be available, delivered using Apple's store. That's version 1.0.  Headset version 2.0 will add a Kinect-like sensor to the front . With that, the headset can also do augmented-reality (AR), combining VR-video with VR-CGI like Microsoft's HoloLens. Another xCode API update will result in thousands of inexpensive AR titles to also be available on the Apple App Store.

    The VR winner will be determined by who has the best platform, not by who has the best headset, or even the first headset.  If Apple can make such a device for under $1000 and combine it with the platform I described, I think they will sell like crazy. I know I will buy one.
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