Apple Virtual Reality Prototype in the Works? [Rumors]

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Jan 30, 2016 08:02 PM EST

Apple might be dipping its toes in virtual reality.

Tech giant Apple is reportedly "secretly prototyping" a virtual reality device that may soon become a contender to the famous Oculus Rift and HoloLens.

The company recently acquired Flyby Media -- a virtual reality start-up company which allows mobile devices to "see" the world around them. Flyby Media has previously worked with Google in developing Project Tango, a 3D positioning technology.

Apple confirmed its acquirement of Flyby Media, as told by Financial Times. "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans," the source read.

According to Mac World, Apple's decision to dive into virtual reality was in part due to Facebook's purchase of Oculus Rift in 2014 for 2 billion U.S. dollars. Apple will be among the tech companies that are trying their hand at VR as Microsoft and other smartphone makers, such as Samsung and HTC, are also developing their own next-gen headsets.

According to Financial Times, Apple has been building prototypes of promising virtual headsets in the past few several months.

In the past, the famous iPhone maker did try outs with virtual-reality headsets. A small team tried making prototypes and and has in fact filed patents on devices, under co-founder Steve Jobs in the mid-2000s.

However, the movement was scrapped as the technology then was "deemed immature." Last year, some of the VR patents were revealed to the market early last year when Apple posted job advertisements stating that it is looking for engineers who can "create high performance apps that integrate with virtual reality systems for prototyping and user testing."

When the company bought Israeli motion-sensing company PrimeSense in 2013, it further stepped up its recruiting and dealmaking in VR and AR when it acquired Metaio and Faceshift. Right now, Apple is still scoping the market for further acquisitions to boost its optical technologies.

Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook revealed in an interview this week that the Virtual Reality technology had broad appeal. "It is really cool and has some interesting applications," Cook noted on Tuesday in the same announcement as the downward spiral of iPhone sales growth.

Right now, it's still ambiguous on what kind of virtual reality device the company will create. "It is unclear when Apple plans to release a headset, or whether its device will compete with the likes of Google's Cardboard and Samsung's Gear VR in mobile virtual reality, or push for a more ambitious augmented-reality device akin to Microsoft's forthcoming Hololens and Magic Leap," the report read.

The same report, however, noted that Apple refuses to comment on any "VR initiative."

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