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Apple is heading into the virtual reality space

Apple is heading into the virtual reality space

Apple-logo-grey-880x625Augmented reality (AR) is the concept that puts digital images on top of real word images. Some believe AR and virtual reality (VR) could represent the next step in personal computing after mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. In fact, it could be the final form of computing because it basically eliminates the need to use devices with screens. You would just need to wear a special set of glasses that adapt with software to show you whatever you need.

Last month, Apple has finally got into the virtual reality game, but not in the way we might have expected. After staying relatively quiet on the future of virtual reality, Apple has made its first entrance with a 360-degree U2 music video made available on the Vrse app.

While the music video was designed to work with Google Cardboard, you can also experience it with just your iPhone. Built around a live performance of “Song for Someone” (from Songs of Innocence), the virtual reality experience lets you see several performers playing the song. The music weaves in and out of those artists alone or with members of U2, and the Vrse app allows you to look at them while they play by turning your head (Google Cardboard) or moving your iPhone.

While this is the first official action into virtual reality, some of Apple’s previous moves also indicate that the company is planning to invest and develop following this path:

  • Buying one of the world’s largest augmented reality companies – Earlier this year, Apple acquired the German company Metaio, which developed augmented reality technologies. The company may be planning to use the tech for an augmented reality feature in its Map App. Users would be able to hold up their iPhone or iPad in the Maps app and point it to a location to get a virtual overlay of information about that venue.
  • Winning patents – In February, the tech giant won a patent for a head mounted display that would incorporate placing another “portable electronic device,” like an iPhone, into the headset for viewing. The company originally filed for it in September 2008. Basically, Apple now has 171 worldwide patents tied to augmented reality, ranking it as 11th place for AR and head mounted display patents.
  • Hiring VR talent – Apple has also been approaching key employees from other tech giants working on augmented and virtual reality technologies. The company recently hired Nick Thompson, the lead audio engineer for Microsoft’s Hololens augmented reality project. The company has also had several job postings on LinkedIn that show their interest in engineers with experience developing augmented reality technology.
  • Acquiring the 3D sensing company that helped Microsoft – Back in 2013, Apple bought an Israeli company called PrimeSense, which develops 3D sensing tech. The company is known for licensing its chip technology and hardware design to Microsoft for use in its Kinect motion-sensing system for the Xbox 360.

Actually, it would be unwise for Apple not to be experimenting in the virtual reality space considering most of its competition, including Google, Facebook, and Samsung, are investing heavily in the space. One thing is for sure, choosing to rollout this special project with U2 was definitely an interesting choice, and this is only the beginning of Apple flirting with VR.

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