It seems like Apple is the only major consumer electronics company out there that isn’t putting a lot of focus on the emerging augmented and virtual reality markets, but that may be about to change. According to the Financial Times, the company has hired Doug Bowman, a former computer science professor at Virginia Tech who’s considered to be one of the most-prominent augmented and virtual reality researchers out there at the moment. As usual, Apple has been tight-lipped regarding what Bowman will be working on at the company, but considering his background, it stands to reason that he’ll help lead the company’s first major effort in the augmented and/or virtual reality markets.
Apple has yet to show its hand in the area of virtual reality but it has been quietly amassing technology through acquisitions of other companies in the field. And now, the company has hired Doug Bowman, one of the best-known researchers in the field, as it attempts to catch up with efforts from Facebook, Microsoft, Google and Samsung. According to a report by the Financial Times, Apple has hired Doug Bowman, a computer science professor at Virginia Tech where he was director of the university’s human-computer interaction center for five years, before recently taking a sabbatical. During his time at the university, he focused on “topics of three-dimensional user interface design and the benefits of immersion in virtual environments,” according to his academic profile. Bowman was also, along with colleague Joseph Gabbard, among five recipients of a grant of $100,000 and two HoloLens Development Edition devices to carry out research into uses for Microsoft’s augmented reality headset. Bowman’s research was called a “Collaborative Analysis of Large-scale Mixed Reality Data.” The Financial Times reported that Bowman worked as a user experience consultant for Disney Imagineering, working on the company’s theme park rides.