The New Stuff

Apple could be putting together an augmented reality team


Apple could be betting big on augmented reality. According to a new Bloomberg report, the company could be working on augmented reality features for the iPhone and then later for glasses, a new device that you would pair with your smartphone.

While the hypothetical pair of glasses is nowhere near ready, it’s still interesting to see what Apple is working on behind the scene. And it first starts with a team.

Mike Rockwell is apparently leading the new augmented reality team. He previously worked for Dolby on new technologies and hardware. Last Spring, Rockwell put together a team of experienced engineers when it comes to augmented reality.

According to Bloomberg, members of the team include:

  • Cody White, a former lead Amazon engineer who worked on Amazon’s CryEngine game engine fork
  • Duncan McRoberts, the former director of software development at Meta
  • Yury Petrov, a former Oculus researcher
  • Avi Bar-Zeev, a former Amazon and Microsoft engineer who worked on HoloLens among other things
  • Various engineers working on special effects for Hollywood blockbusters

Hardware and software engineers who were working on other projects at Apple also joined the team. Apple also acquired Metaio and Flyby Media for those projects. Overall, hundreds of engineers could be working on augmented reality right now.

All of this sounds cool, but it doesn’t really tell us what Apple has in store for its users. Details are thin on this front in Bloomberg’s report.

Apple could start with basic augmented reality features in the Camera app, such as selfie filters and real time object detection starting with faces. In other words, you can expect Snapchat-style filters built into iOS soon. While this is not augmented reality per se, the company could also go beyond Portrait Mode by letting you adjust the focus on an image after taking a photo. And that’s about all we know so far.

If Apple is serious about augmented reality, there should be something more than this. Bloomberg talks about new augmented reality glasses so you can add virtual data to the world around you, but it sounds like the company itself doesn’t know what it wants to do with the new device yet.

As always, take this information with a grain of salt. And let’s see if iOS 11 gives us hints about Apple’s augmented reality bet.

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