Apple hires former Magic Leap, Oculus engineers in VR/AR push

Posted:
in General Discussion edited September 2016
Two recent Apple hires suggest the company is getting serious about building out its own virtual and augmented reality technologies, though Cupertino has some catching up to do as Google, Facebook and Microsoft forge ahead with mature projects.


Sony's prototype augmented reality glasses.


Earlier this month, Zeyu Li, a former Magic Leap employee who spent just over a year at that company, joined Apple as a Senior Computer Vision Algorithm Engineer, reports Business Insider. According to Li's LinkedIn profile, he worked on "cool stuff" while at the secretive merged reality startup, first as Lead 3D Engineer, then as Principal Engineer.

Apple's second hire comes from Facebook's Oculus. Yury Petrov, who worked as a research scientist at the VR firm since 2013, took an identical position at Apple in June. Petrov's LinkedIn profile says his job at Oculus entailed "psychophysical and physiological studies of visual and multisensory experience of virtual reality (VR) including user experience factors in head-mounted displays (HMD)."

With consumer interest in VR/AR experiences freshly renewed, in large part thanks to Oculus Rift, tech companies are jumping on the bandwagon with their own bespoke solutions. New miniaturization techniques and advanced sensor technology built for smartphones are the basis of many hardware kits, including those built by Oculus and Microsoft, but the world leader in portable technology, Apple, has yet to debut its own system.

Rumors of an Apple-branded VR/AR solution have floated for years. From patents for AR devices with transparent displays to iPhone-powered VR headsets, evidence of Apple's interest in the space is mounting.

During a quarterly investor conference call in January, CEO Tim Cook responded to a question about Apple's potential role in the future of VR, saying he thinks the technology is "cool" and has interesting applications. Expanded on those thoughts six months later during Apple's most recent earnings call, Cook confirmed investments in AR technology, adding that the potential for growth is huge.

Apple last year acquired motion capture specialist Faceshift and German AR firm Metaio.

Cook mentioned Apple's ongoing development of AR solutions in an interview in August, and did so again this week when speaking with ABC News' Robin Roberts. Asked about the prospect of Apple-branded VR/AR, Cook said that while VR promises "cool" applications for gaming and education, AR technology is of particular interest.

"There's virtual reality and there's augmented reality -- both of these are incredibly interesting," Cook said. "But my own view is that augmented reality is the larger of the two, probably by far."

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 13
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,418member
    And it's gonna take forever for Apple to catch up with Microsoft's use of holography... not.
    (Hint: because HoloLens has nothing to do with holography.)
    SpamSandwichjony0
  • Reply 2 of 13
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    Bet your ass if Apple develops an AR/VR device it won't require an iPhone. That solution is so wrong. It will be a standalone device.

    Sometimes I think it makes more sense to intergrate these technologies into current devices.
  • Reply 3 of 13
    Apple should just buy Magic Leap. 
  • Reply 4 of 13
    Two recent Apple hires suggest the company is getting serious about building out its own virtual and augmented reality technologies, though Cupertino has some catching up to do as Google, Facebook and Microsoft forge ahead with mature projects.

    By "catching up" are we talking about releasing prototypes which will be nothing like the final released product, if it ever comes?

    I've heard of Sony's AR/ VR stuff, Microsoft's HoloLens, Oculus Rift, Google Cardboard and whatever the hell it is that Samsung ships as Galaxy Gear now. None of these appear to be mature products, so how do we conclude that Apple has some catching up to do?

    As with every product, Apple will release their product when it is ready to ship. If you have any doubts on how Apple works with new product lines, just read DED's epic Apple Watch feature.

    edited September 2016
  • Reply 5 of 13
    Gah, this worries me. Apple should not be chasing every new tech that comes along - they did that in the 1990s (Apple X.400 server, CL/1, GeoPort, etc) and look how that turned out.
  • Reply 6 of 13
    This is so wrong, everyone is stating as a fact because the other players show of their prototypes before they are anywhere near ready, that Apple is way behind when no one knows a thing. If your playing poker, showing the other players your hand is a pretty certain way to come out behind. If Tim cook states that this is interesting then there is a lot more work going on than people presume.
  • Reply 7 of 13
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,471member
    Gah, this worries me. Apple should not be chasing every new tech that comes along - they did that in the 1990s (Apple X.400 server, CL/1, GeoPort, etc) and look how that turned out.
    See Apple's earlier patents on stereo display glasses.  They've been doing R & D in this category of wearable 3D interface for several years, probably at least a decade.

    I don't think they're behind, just more discerning about releasing a half-baked solution like putting a big heavy phone inside a box on your face. Whatever they come up with should be a more elegant solution than all that freakish plastic.
    edited September 2016
  • Reply 8 of 13
    bluefire1 said:
    Apple should just buy Magic Leap. 
    Google is an investor in that company and I have serious doubts they will ever release a product. They have lots of demos and the most interesting demos I've seen thus far from them strongly suggest their glasses won't perform well in a brightly lit environment.
    edited September 2016
  • Reply 9 of 13
    Gah, this worries me. Apple should not be chasing every new tech that comes along - they did that in the 1990s (Apple X.400 server, CL/1, GeoPort, etc) and look how that turned out.
    My question is: is everyone supposed to wear glasses ? I mean I like the tech enough I guess but I just can't see any mass application, sure Apple can design and make a very desirable product but how is everyone suddenly supposed to justify wearing glasses ? and since there's about as many frame shape and designs as there are faces to fit into how is Apple who typically make one for all design products going to at some point make a product that stylistically supposed to fit everyone's face as to aesthetically work ? I'm yet to see a pair of sunglasses that can aesthetically fit all faces. I can see a set for gaming things like Duel Monsters in real life and such but day to day ? I just can't see it, makes me really really wonder what those wizards at Cupertino are "Cooking" up ;) any thoughts ?
  • Reply 10 of 13
    Gah, this worries me. Apple should not be chasing every new tech that comes along - they did that in the 1990s (Apple X.400 server, CL/1, GeoPort, etc) and look how that turned out.
    My question is: is everyone supposed to wear glasses ? I mean I like the tech enough I guess but I just can't see any mass application, sure Apple can design and make a very desirable product but how is everyone suddenly supposed to justify wearing glasses ? and since there's about as many frame shape and designs as there are faces to fit into how is Apple who typically make one for all design products going to at some point make a product that stylistically supposed to fit everyone's face as to aesthetically work ? I'm yet to see a pair of sunglasses that can aesthetically fit all faces. I can see a set for gaming things like Duel Monsters in real life and such but day to day ? I just can't see it, makes me really really wonder what those wizards at Cupertino are "Cooking" up ;) any thoughts ?
  • Reply 11 of 13
    Gah, this worries me. Apple should not be chasing every new tech that comes along - they did that in the 1990s (Apple X.400 server, CL/1, GeoPort, etc) and look how that turned out.
    My question is: is everyone supposed to wear glasses ? I mean I like the tech enough I guess but I just can't see any mass application, sure Apple can design and make a very desirable product but how is everyone suddenly supposed to justify wearing glasses ? and since there's about as many frame shape and designs as there are faces to fit into how is Apple who typically make one for all design products going to at some point make a product that stylistically supposed to fit everyone's face as to aesthetically work ? I'm yet to see a pair of sunglasses that can aesthetically fit all faces. I can see a set for gaming things like Duel Monsters in real life and such but day to day ? I just can't see it, makes me really really wonder what those wizards at Cupertino are "Cooking" up ;) any thoughts ?
  • Reply 12 of 13
    magic leap is no longer being backed by GOOGLE. they parted ways last year; 6 staff members from a local university left to work for magic leap. they're only hiring from big name university and not considering local student for there positions.
    edited September 2016
  • Reply 13 of 13
    Apple needs augmented reality for the Apple Car windshield overlay.
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