Virtual Reality has witnessed tremendous leaps in the recent past. The industry has seen numerous innovations which have boosted both user experience and functionality to enviable limits. The VR industry is estimated to be worth $5 billion at the moment and is expected to grow exponentially. It continues to attract new players every day with Apple being one of them. Apple is a consumer technology titan always setting the trend as far as digital lifestyle is concerned. Its products, Mac, iPhone and iPod, have been the have always pushed user experience to limits previously thought to be impossible. Apple’s entry into the industry just heightened the expectations the industry is expected to deliver on in 2016.

Apple’s new research unit is composed of staff from various startups and key hires from VR and camera technology companies including Microsoft. Apple has recently acquired Flyby Media, a tech startup known for its critical role in Googles vision based software “Project Tango”. Flyby Media has in the recent past developed an app that allows a mobile phone to “scan” real objects and add them to their collection of saved objects. Friends can then send objects to these objects as a way of communicating. It’s the underlying technology of the app that drew Apple interest in the startup.

Apple also poached several Microsoft’s former employees who worked on the HoloLens VR project. HoloLens is an augmented reality headset device that uses 3D to display holograms and blend it into the real world. To add on to the list of VR experts, Apple also hired Doug Bowman, a tech professor from Virginia. Bowman specializes in VR and is known for his doctoral thesis on human interaction in VR world. His research team actually won a grant to use HoloLens for a research project.

Apple now has numerous VR technologies, ideas and experts at its disposal. It has however not made its intentions public. However if it’s head-mounted VR set patent is anything to go by, we should expect a renewed come back into the VR platform. The headset patented by Apple is similar to the Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear VR but is specifically built for the iPhone. It’s accompanied with an optional remote that is used to control the VR experience without having to deal with headset or phone controls.

The patent application dates back to 2008 way back before Samsung Gear VR, or Google Cardboard were announced. This is evidence Apple has for a long time now been eyeing the VR industry. To what extend its VR technology has mutated is subject to speculation. Other companies that have also lately been investing mainly in VR include Samsung, Google and Facebook. As a result, numerous VR devices are expected to premiere this year. These devices include Oculus Rift VR, Sony PlayStation VR among others. With apple by the side, the competition to deliver on immersive user experience, price and other functionalities is high. Whether Apple will be able to establish itself as a market leader as it has in the smartphone and computer industry can at the moment, only be left to speculation.

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