For last 10 years or so, Apple has really been showing some keen interest in virtual and augmented reality systems and technologies. And there have been some major strides made by the company in this area as well. Also, there are rumors that Apple now maintains a secret unit for all such research where hundreds of Apple employees are working on both VR and AR technologies, exploring how they could be able to incorporate these emerging technologies into their products. And, with Apple acquire several VR/AR companies in recent times, there has been a hike in AR/AR hiring as well. The latest big thing from Apple was the announcement of VR in Macs at the WWDC 2017 where they even came up with a full-fledged demo of what they have achieved so far and what might be coming up in next generation of Macs.
With all that being said, let’s take a look at what Apple is doing in the area of VR/AR and what suggests that the company is going to focus on these technologies in coming times.
Introduction of Virtual Reality In Macs
At the WWDC 2017, Apple announced that they’re introducing Virtual Reality In Macs. The upcoming Macbook Pro line has seen some serious overhaul to receive the VR capabilities.
In Apple’s demo at that event in June this year, they depicted the power of new MacBook Pro that can now be connected to external graphics processor for the first time. The demo featured Thunderbolt 3 GPU chassis that was connected to AMD Radeon RX 580 graphics card.
Apple will now be extending support for the external GPUs as well that are capable of providing VR-capable graphics on all Macs available right now, including the latest MacBook Pro. They will use Thunderbolt 3 for providing GPU connectivity. These GPUs may not offer much in terms of portability but they really are capable enough to process those huge numbers of pixels that are part and parcel of any VR setup.
So, it’s a heads up from Apple for Mac users who were really missing the VR experience on their powerful devices.
Apple Has Acquired 4 Startups Specializing In The Related Technologies
Even though Apple has not made any multibillion-dollar deals in this space as of now, but still it is one of the major buyers as far as VR startups are concerned. Some of their recent purchases are:
- Metaio: It’s a German startup that takes the honor of introducing an app which visualizes the way digital furniture would appear in one’s home.
- FlyBy Media: It’s a company that has partnered with Apple as well as Google on computer vision previously. Computer vision itself is a technology that is linked closely to VR and AR. You need sophisticated computer vision technology for placing some interesting digital objects around you. They’re placed in a way that the user is, literally, convinced to believe that everything is real.
- FaceShift: It is a company which worked on transforming the face of the user into some digital 3D cartoon. And, the best part is, it all works in real time.
- PrimeSense: Apple had bought PrimeSense in 2013 for $360 million. The startup made a video-sensor and a camera that were both tuned specifically for computer-vision apps.
Besides these few startups, there may be many others that Apple already has or plans to acquire.
Apple Stores Are Already Selling A Product Which Turns Your iPhone Into A VR Headset
The online store of Apple is already selling View-Master from Mattel, a product which is designed to convert your iPhone into your personal VR headset. This means Apple is receptive to the idea that when making strides with Virtual Reality in Macs, it can’t leave behind VR on iPhones. So, it is doing, at least, something to take both forward together.
So, with all that being said, there is conclusive evidence that Apple is not just working on Virtual Reality but has already started making major forward strides. The upcoming MacBook Pro line will probably be its first achievement at such level to introduce Virtual Reality in Macs. Let’s look forward to it and see what kind of experience Apple is coming up with.