The latest news in the world of Apple is the latest acquisition of computer vision company Flyby, together with a recent comment from Apple’s CEO seems to be indicating some significant virtual reality commitments from the company.
The FT reported yesterday that Apple, in the latest of acquisitions of companies focusing on technology used in Augmented or Virtual Reality capacities, has acquired Flyby Media, a company previously known for mobile apps that cleverly process aspects of the real world. The company also worked closely with Google on their computer vision powered, mixed reality project ‘Tango’.
The acquisition is interesting in isolation, but it’s when held as a trend, listed against Apple’s previous movements in the space that have led observers to conclude that the evidence is now very strongly pointing to Apple making a move in the immersive technology space soon.
The Financial Times asserts that the newly acquired companies have been distilled into a “secret research unit”, after those companies have been carefully targeted by Apple. This comes hot on the heels on the hiring of well respected researcher Doug Bowman, which we reported on recently, from Virginia Tech.
All of this mounting evidence, the Apple was getting serious about VR, was then crystallised when – on an Apple earnings call earlier this week – Apple CEO Tim Cook stated that far from being a niche technology that “It is really cool and has some interesting applications,” the first time Apple has commented so positively on the immersive technology space.
These rumours and acquisitions seem at odds with comments from Apple’s Chief of Design Sir Jonathan Ive, who said last year that putting technology on your face was the “wrong place”, when defending the company’s stance on wearable technology.
It now seems unthinkable that, in the wake of every one of its major competitors now public declarations of interest or investment in the field of immersive technology, be that AR or VR, that Apple wouldn’t be charging to catch up. And it’s a welcome thought too. Whether you’re a fan of the company’s products or not, most observers of the tech industry would argue that Apple’s influence in the last major tech disruption, the advent of the smartphone, was hugely significant. The company’s focus of a tight integration of hardware and software is also a good fit for VR, which demands that kind of symbiosis.