While the slew of rivals such as the latest Samsung Galaxy S7 and the Google Pixel have introduced support for virtual reality for several months already, Apple’s iPhone has largely remained on the sidelines.
Now it appears that the situation is about to change after a VR company called Occipital released a VR headgear exclusively for the iPhone 7. It is called Bridge and the idea seems a marriage between Microsoft Hololens and the Samsung Gear VR or virtual reality and augmented reality.
The iPhone 7 is, of course, not equipped with sensors necessary for VR and AR. Bridge has addressed this by coming to the party armed with dedicated structure sensor that provides the tracking framework.
Occipital has also put in more work on the device by developing its own software called Bridge Engine. To some extent, this represents Occipital’s ambition to build its own VR/AR platform.
The whole Bridge setup can be used as an AR platform for 3D and large-scale SLAM (simultaneous localization and mapping) applications. It becomes a VR gear once the sensor is applied to the smartphone cradle along with the attachment of a wide-angle lens adapter.
At this point, Occipital’s solution is a bit roundabout when compared with VR systems in the Android ecosystem. Nevertheless, it is a start. It should also pave the way for Apple to begin introducing its VR products. Bridge is now available for purchase through the $500 developer kit that can be ordered at the Occipital’s website.
Apple Virtual Reality
Naturally, there are numerous rumors about an Apple VR gear. The company’s plans for an Apple augmented reality headset is almost a certainty since Tim Cook is a vocal advocate of this technology.
But let us try to cite some credible information. At this point the most “tangible” evidence that Apple is actually dabbling into VR and AR technologies involves its patent applications.
According to MacRumors, Apple’s patent filings for VR and AR already amount to at least 10 years of research and development. This information is further supported by a series of developments at Cupertino recently.
For example, a flurry of hirings have recently surfaced and these seemed to involve personages connected to VR and AR development. Doug Mowman is a case in point. Financial Times noted that he was snagged by Apple recruiters after his stint as a computer science professor at Virginia Tech.
Apple has also acquired several startups in the business of either AR or VR development. Insiders will probably recall Metaio, a VR startup credited for developing Creator, which can create augmented reality scenarios within minutes.
Apple VR, AR Rumors
The rest of the rumors are mere conjectures and speculations such as the purported super secret AR unit tucked within Apple’s headquarters.
So, at this point, it is clear that Apple is not about to shock every one by outfitting next year’s iPhone 8 with AR and VR features. It is highly unlikely mainly because, one does not only need a VR or AR compatible hardware. The company must also develop the ecosystem, encouraging developers to begin working on VR and AR applications to ensure user engagement and viability of its own VR/AR platform.
One can turn to the case of Oculus Rift for insights. The device is already available and has been tweaked and refined numerous times. However, it is yet to really take-off because there are still a dearth of content that can keep consumers entabgled in the platform.