Virtual reality is more than just science fiction
Reports came out last Friday that Apple has started to diverge into virtual reality research after hiring one of the field’s leading experts in the US. Doug Bowman has joined Apple after five years as a computer science professor at Virginia Tech, where he specialised in computer-human interaction.
Apple has recently filed patents for virtual reality systems based around iPhones and although no new products have even been hinted at, industry experts report that the international corporation has been heavily investing and researching this technology over the past six months. Bowman’s research is centred around immersive virtual reality, like in Facebook’s Oculus Rift, and also augmented reality, like Google Glass and Microsoft’s Hololens. He has won several prizes in his field and last November, he and another colleague from Virginia Tech received a £70,000 research grant from Microsoft for using their Hololens in a study into “large scale mixed reality data”.
However, it’s not just Apple and Microsoft who are forging ahead in the field. Google recently named Clay Bavor, the previous head of apps, as their vice-president of virtual reality and is also heavily invested in smartphone-centred virtual reality. Last week, Goldman analysts wrote a note to clients, stating that “We believe VR/AR has the potential to spawn a multi-billion-dollar industry, and possibly be as game changing as the advent of the PC.”
Although virtual reality systems seem to still be in their infancy, the tech industry’s key players are quietly developing what is likely to be the future of entertainment. Silicon Valley is slowly analysing consumer demands, as well as refining and researching the technology itself. Although virtual reality would completely revolutionise gaming, we’ll have to wait until it is fully developed and available on the market. Until then, Minecraft, Mario Kart, Landmark Bingo, Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty will certainly suffice.