Apple rumored to have 'hundreds of staff' dedicated to virtual and augmented reality

This latest rumor may hint at Apple making some big moves in the virtual and augmented spaces in the near future.

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It wasn’t too long ago when we learned Apple won a patent for an iPhone-powered virtual reality headset, and today, an interesting rumor has popped up regarding the company’s possible future in the VR ring.

According to a rumor published by the Financial Times, Apple has “hundreds of staff” that are dedicated to experimental virtual reality and augmented reality projects. Some of this staff are reportedly working on prototype headset configurations which Apple could one day compete against other VR headsets, such as the Oculus Rift.

The prototype headsets have reportedly been in development for several months with Apple also acquiring Flyby Media, which is an AR firm that previously worked closely with Google.

It come as no surprise at this point Apple is extremely interested in virtual and augmented reality after its track record of acquisitions and patent applications. But to hear it has “hundreds of staff” solely dedicated to the spaces may hint at it being revealed relatively soon. And seeing how Apple’s iPhone business has been slipping lately, it might be better to announce whatever they have going on sooner rather than later.

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From The Chatty
    • reply
      January 29, 2016 1:53 PM

      They're probably also counting the mail room, janitorial, and HR staff.

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        January 29, 2016 2:03 PM

        They're probably using the same logic as the MPAA and RIAA do.

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        January 29, 2016 2:38 PM

        Why? Hundreds of staff is reasonable if you're going to approach VR seriously. Oculus has around 60 open positions in R&D right now and it wouldn't be surprising if they're staffed by over 400 these days (they were staffed at over 360 last summer).

        Last quarter Apple spent $2.4 billion on R&D -- they can afford to throw a couple hundred people at non core projects.

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          January 29, 2016 2:45 PM

          Oculus does indeed have 400+ people now (not sure how much of that is on the content production side though).

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          January 29, 2016 3:18 PM

          I don't doubt they have that number but it's not against the rules for them to count the other ancillary staff that have indirect roles. Look at a video games that include a ton of people outside of the development staff in the credits as well.

          I used to audit medical device companies and part of it was examining the press releases so they are giving out numbers that line up with the quarterly or yearly Financials. One of the common PR things they'll say is X number of people working on a given project. The count usually is inflated with other indirect staff. The personnel number isn't something we strictly audited because it wasn't a financial that can be tied to a verifiable account but out of curiosity I tried to extrapolate the true number by looking at the payroll and seeing who was employed by the company and broke everyone up by department, job code, and so on. Even temp staff and contractors. I tried different combinations of staff, engineers, technicians, consultants, and so on. However they did it, they could count people who have full time or partial time or even indirect time since the guy who works in purchasing in a sense supports it. I didn't take it any further because ultimately the number was meaningless but it didn't clash with the full figure of their overall employment numbers. My job was more worried about the Financials and percentages they cited and staff numbers can be important when it's the entire company but small tidbits about how many are working on a specific project was just PR. The Legal team in the next room worried about how things were worded and probably cared less than we did.

          I bookmarked each number I had to tie to the financial statement because new drafts of the press release came out hourly sometimes so I had to ensure that if there's changes it was justified. I caught a few spelling errors too but really that wasn't my task. Someone else usually fixed it by the next draft.

          Behind the scenes they may really may not have as much as it seems working on that project because they're still playing catch up and the actual staff numbers can be lower than it really is. When it comes to numbers whether it be manpower levels, man hours spent, or budgets, management/PR loves to make it sound bigger when it's good and lower when it's good. As long as they're not misrepresenting their audited Financials then they can do whatever they want.

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            January 29, 2016 5:43 PM

            But this is just some random rumour -- Apple has no stake in representing their number of staff working on the project, they don't even acknowledge that they're even working on VR in the first place.

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      January 29, 2016 2:31 PM

      Having spent a couple hours in a row in VR, it's annoying not knowing what's going on in texts and emails. PNs in vr are obviously a double edged sword, but I think people will gravitate towards the systems that let them integrate their messaging in the long run.

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        January 29, 2016 2:41 PM

        GearVR has integration there.

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        January 29, 2016 2:44 PM

        I think I'd look at it not having constant bombardment with notifications a positive thing. I'd be using activities like that to relax.

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          January 29, 2016 3:18 PM

          this is no different than any other system (PC/phone/etc). You want the ability to get notifications. You also want the ability to turn off notifications.

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            January 29, 2016 3:26 PM

            Personally - I'd rather it just stayed separate. Less chance I forget to turn it off and then see something that gets my mind going in the wrong direction and before I know it I'm back in work mode. I'll be the first to say though what I like and want out of devices is often not what everyone else wants.

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              January 29, 2016 3:30 PM

              set 'no notifications while using VR', never see notifications again, problem solved. The rest of the world can have the option of having an emergency phone call reach them while they play videogames or watch a movie.

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        January 29, 2016 3:21 PM

        [deleted]

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          January 29, 2016 3:28 PM

          if only there was some way to configure which notifications the system delivers

          it's entirely reasonable for someone to want to use VR and not be literally unreachable for the duration

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        January 29, 2016 5:33 PM

        Yeah, AR is more down your alley.

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      January 29, 2016 3:10 PM

      I can see Apple doing a wearable AR device like Google Glass but not a full on VR headset.

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        January 29, 2016 4:08 PM

        Exactly, they are making AR fashionable before they do VR.

      • Zek legacy 10 years
        reply
        January 29, 2016 7:06 PM

        Why though? I'm not sure even Apple can solve the image problems that Glass is encountering with a device like that.

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      January 29, 2016 3:16 PM

      I can't wait until Apple invents VR.

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      January 29, 2016 3:31 PM

      "...you guys don't even know."

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      January 29, 2016 3:33 PM

      I feel like Apple chases establishes technology now instead of inventing new devices.

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        January 29, 2016 3:37 PM

        the iPhone and iPad weren't exactly the first smartphone or first tablet ever conceived. They generally know when they can enter a market with an acceptable level of quality for their brand.

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        January 29, 2016 3:46 PM

        Apple did not invent the mouse, the GUI, the mp3 player, the smart phone, or the tablet, but they defined best-in-class for all of these things. Apple rarely invents. They perfect.

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          January 29, 2016 5:51 PM

          Yes, its a sign of how good they are at "perfecting" that people look back and credit them as inventors.

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          January 29, 2016 7:59 PM

          They make a best-in-class mouse?

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            January 29, 2016 8:23 PM

            Made - we're talking the original Mac mouse here

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