Apple takes interest in Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab

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Rumors are stating that Apple is investing heavily in virtual and augmented reality solutions.

Apple representatives are said to be visiting Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab quite a bit more often. Founding director Jeremy Bailenson told the folks over at The Wall Street Journal that Apple’s recent visits were the first since the lab that was founded in 2003. Bailenson had the following to say regarding the matter:

Apple hasn’t come to my lab in 13 years, except they’ve come three times in the last three months. They come and they don’t say a word, but there’s a data point for you.

According to Bailenson, the Apple representatives were put through immersive VR experience. The experiences vary based including one where the user is taught empathy through forced perspective virtual reality interventions. For this project, a male subject would enter the VR world and given a female persona while being exposed to prejudice. Another one of his projects teaches sustainable behaviors such as reducing paper use and saving hot water.

As of right now, Stanford’s team is not only pushing the boundaries of current VR hardware and software but they are also looking into how to best leverage such technology in new and meaningful ways.

Apple on the other hand is widely rumored to be working on its own consumer VR solution, one that would rival Facebook’s Oculus. The VR space seems to be growing increasingly popular with trending products like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, both of which are set to ship this year. These products are going to be followed by Sony’s PlayStation VR and Microsoft’s Hololens projects. Apple’s VR plans continue to remain unknown but we do know that the company has filed numerous patent covering virtual displays, augmented reality, computer vision and other related technologies. The company 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. More recently Apple hired Doug Bowman, a top researcher in the VR field as well.

We’ll have to wait for more concrete evidence but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Apple enter the VR space.

[Via The Wall Street Journal]