News: Apple Built Its Augmented Reality Group with Outsiders from Oculus & Microsoft

Apple Built Its Augmented Reality Group with Outsiders from Oculus & Microsoft

Apple is combining internal and external talent in an effort to give them in edge in the augmented reality market, though we still don't know what form their foray into alternative realities will actually take.

Rumors have been spreading for years about Apple's interest in augmented technology, mostly fueled by CEO Tim Cook's constant comments on the idea. All these comments, though, haven't actually said much about what Apple is actually going to be creating in the arena. There may be some hints in a recent scoop from Bloomberg about how they've staffed their AR department.

Sources told Bloomberg's Mark Gurman that the tech giant was combining existing talent with talent from outside the company, including engineers who worked on Facebook's Oculus and Microsoft's HoloLens mixed reality headsets.

Apple recruited Mike Rockwell, who ran the hardware and new technologies groups at Dolby, to run their main AR team at Apple. Rockwell has also advised augmented reality headset maker Meta during his time at Dolby, which invests in the company.

Other outside hires mentioned in the Bloomberg article include:

  • Cody White, who worked on Amazon's Lumberyard VR platform.
  • Duncan McRoberts, Meta's former Director of Software development, and does not seem to have updated his LinkedIn.
  • Yury Petrov, a former Oculus researcher who moved to Apple in June 2016.
  • Avi Bar-Zeev, who worked on the HoloLens and Google Earth.

The company has left no stone unturned, even from the movie industry's 3D animation ranks. Bloomberg revealed that Apple has poached several people from the special effects company Weta Digital (known to be tight with mixed reality headset maker Magic Leap) to a new office based in Wellington, New Zealand.

Apple has also included iPhone, camera, and optical lens engineers on the dream team in question from their own ranks. Experts in sourcing raw materials are also onboard from within Apple's ranks. The people in this group include Rockwell's Fletcher Rothkopf (who helped to design the Apple Watch), and Tomlinson Holman, who created THX, the audio standard.

Apple has also acquired modest firms with knowledge of AR hardware and 3D gaming, not to mention 3D virtual reality software. The company has acquired Metaio, "pioneers in augmented reality and computer vision," as well as FlyBy Media, "mobile industry entrepreneurs and computer vision scientists dedicated to building new technology that can elevate, rather than replace, our real-world experiences," according to their Crunchbase profile.

Whether Apple will be able to be top of the AR game remains to be seen. Do you think they'll succeed in dominating the market? Would you want your Apple-ified AR integrated into a set of glasses or in the iPhone itself?

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Cover image via Apple/USPTO

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