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Apple's virtual reality (VR) rumours and images

Lewis Painter | Feb. 17, 2016
Apple CEO Tim Cook says VR isn't a niche area, and has made a number of high-profile, VR-related hires and acquisitions

Along with acquiring Metaio, Apple also acquired Faceshift in November 2015. While it isn't an AR-specific company like Metaio, Faceshift created the motion-capture technology that was used in the recent Star Wars film. The firm is known for developing software that allows CGI-animated 3D characters to 'copy' the facial expressions of the actor. While this could be linked to a virtual/augmented reality headset, it could also be used on FaceTime - think Snapchat-esque lenses.

Most recently, Apple has confirmed the acquisition of Flyby Media, a company well-known for developing technology that allows smartphones to 'see' the world around them. Notably, the company has worked with Google in the past to develop the image-recognition abilities found in Google's Project Tango. Though the website is now down (typical of an Apple acquisition), Flyby Media described itself as "dedicated to building new technology that can elevate, rather than replace, our real-world experiences." and boasted a team with knowledge in the areas of large-scale SLAM, indoor navigation, sensor fusion, image recognition as well as 3D tracking. 

Apple VR headset patents: Apple patents head-mounted display

Apple patents VR display

Way back in December 2013 an Apple Patent (USPTO 8,605,008) surfaced. This patent described a head-mounted display. The abstract talks about "A goggle system for providing a personal media viewing experience to a user is provided. The goggle system may include an outer cover, a mid-frame, optical components for generating the media display, and a lens on which the generated media displayed is provided to the user."

Apple VR design rumours: what will Apple VR look like?

Apple VR Headset design

According to Apple's patent, "the goggle system may resemble ski or motorcycle goggles. To enhance the user's comfort, the goggle system may include breathable components, including for example breathable foam that rests against the user's face, and may allow the user to move the display generation components for alignment with the user's eyes. In some embodiments, the goggle system may include data processing circuitry operative to adjust left and right images generated by the optical components to display 3-D media or account for a user's eyesight limitations"

The patent was filed in May 2007 before the iPhone was even released.

Apple VR UK release date rumours: When will Apple release its VR headset?

Assuming that Apple is working on a VR headset, and is going to announce one at some point, when would be a likely time?

While other companies seem to be making public headway with their VR offerings, nothing is truly available to the public yet. Oculus Rift will come first, with pre-orders shipping in March, with the HTC Vive Pre to follow suit soon after. Hololens is being given to developers for testing and probably won't get a public release until at least later in 2016, and development on Google Glass has been halted.


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