Apple hires Doug Bowman, a leading researcher in virtual reality

Douglas Andrew Bowman, Professor, Computer Science.

A new report released from the Financial Times recently noted that Apple has hired a top researcher in the virtual reality field, Doug Bowman.

According to the Financial Times, Bowman was a computer science professor at Virginia Tech but recently took a sabbatical and now works at Apple. During his five-year tenure at Virginia Tech, Bowman was a director of the school’s Center for Human-Computer Interaction and concentrated on “three-dimensional user interface design and the benefits of immersion in virtual environments.”

Bowman has won several IEEE awards for three dimensional user interfaces and technical achievements in VR, as well being a User Experience Consultant for Disney Imagineering. He is also the author of ‘3D User Interfaces: Theory and Practice.’  With all of this experience on Bowman’s resume, it isn’t a surprise to see that Apple ended up hiring him.

The recent hire and three augmented reality/virtual reality acquisitions from Apple all suggest that the Cupertino California-based company is looking to do something major and significant in the VR field. Apple previously acquired expression analysis startup Emotient a few weeks ago, real-time motion capture firm Faceshift in November of last year, and augmented reality company Metaio in May of last year.

As a reference, Faceshift is the company whose technology was used to animate characters from ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens.’Metaio was purchased last year as well but due to a 2013 acquisition, PrimeSense was also brought into the picture, being known for working on the first-generation of Microsoft’s Kinect optical motion input device in the Xbox 360.

Along with the recent hire and the acquisitions, Apple has also filed for and secured a few patents for virtual reality including patents pertaining to 3D hyper-reality displays, video goggles and an iOS motion-sensing 3D virtual interfaces.

It’s unclear as to why Apple decided to acquire so many VR companies along with hiring a VR expert, but we will have to be patient with them, as always, until they are ready to make a major announcement.

[Via Financial Times]


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