Top Virtual Reality Researcher Joins Apple

The Financial Times’ Tim Bradshaw reports that Apple has hired one of the top US researchers in virtual reality. Doug Bowman joined the iPhone maker after going on sabbatical from his post as computer science professor at Virginia Tech.

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His experience spans both fully immersive VR, as used in Facebook’s Oculus Rift and HTC’s Vive headsets, as well as augmented reality, where transparent visors such as Microsoft’s Hololens, Google Glass and secretive start-up Magic Leap mingle digital images with the real world still visible. […] Mr Bowman is highly regarded by his peers in academia and has won several industry prizes for his work in VR and 3D interfaces in the last few years.

For the past five years Bowman has been the director of the Center of Human Interaction (HCI). According to his academic profile published on Virginia Tech’s website, he is the principal investigator of the 3D Interaction Group, focusing on the topics of three-dimensional user interface design and the effects of fidelity in virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR) systems.

Bowman was the lead author of 3D User Interfaces: Theory and Practice, a handbook of virtual environments; design, implementation, and applications. The book was also co-authored by Ryan P McMahan and Regis Kopper.

While Apple has kept a low profile in the VR field, its recent acquisitions and hires reveal that the company is at least experimenting with virtual reality. Apple has acquired German AR startup Metaio, FaceShift, bought PrimeSense more than two years ago, and recently hired HoloLens engineer Nick Thompson from Microsoft.

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