Apple is seeking to expand its services to include virtual reality after it was reported that the tech giant acquired Flyby Media, a start-up business that specializes in augmented reality designed to enable mobile devices to scan the surroundings and create a simulated version of it.
The Cupertino-based company is said to have begun building up a team of virtual and augmented reality professionals to develop and design headset prototypes expected to clash with existing players such as Oculus Rift by Facebook and Hololens by Microsoft.
Apple’s move is also seen as a search for fresh revenue streams as the company faces a gloomy future ahead in China, where consumers account for its largest market for iPhone devices.
Flyby Media will join the research team consisting of personnel from other recently acquired companies by Apple and also employees recruited by the tech giant from other companies that have previously turned their attention to virtual reality technologies.
If you can recall Google’s Project Tango, you will have gained a sparkle of memory about Flyby Media’s involvement in it. That is so because the startup company was a key part of the team that developed the project meant to develop three-dimensional positioning systems.
But reports have it that Apple began to build headset prototypes a few months before Flyby Media’s acquisition, so that the company could be forming a key ingredient in the developmental project.
In the opinion of Apple CEO Tim Cook, augmented and virtual reality presents an appealing technology to consumers and addresses a number of applications. Cook’s statement reflects the current slowdown in the growth of iPhone sales.
This is not the first time, however, that Apple attempted to explore the possibilities of building a virtual reality. When Steve Jobs was still alive and led the company, Apple designed device prototypes that could have set the path toward augmented reality then, except that Jobs and company thought the plan unripe. So it was left for dead, so to speak.
Reports earlier this year also served as harbinger of Apple’s plan to jump on the VR bandwagon. The company announced a hiring spree for software engineers who are capable of developing apps that can operate with virtual reality technologies.
Many believe that what really inspired Apple to push through with the VR plan is the rise of Oculus Rift. Recent acquisitions that also revealed Apple’s interest in virtual reality include the Metaio and Faceshift purchases.