Apple may be betting big on immersive tech with VR and AR headsets

  • Apple seems to have renewed interest in AR and VR technologies after it acquired VR entertainment broadcasting company NextVR.

    Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality have been heavily invested in by large tech companies but hasn't quite lived up to expectations yet. Facebook paid $2bn US for VR gaming headset firm Oculus back in 2014 despite the device being a very niche product with few games, and Google famously poured money into its Google Glass AR glasses before ultimately cancelling the product entirely.

    The recent release of Valve's VR title Half-Life Alyx has resulted in a spike in sales of all VR devices, including Valve's own Index headset, the Oculus Rift, and the HTC Vive. The increase in VR adoption has also driven purchases of other VR entertainment products such as recorded live shows, concerts, and events.

    Augmented Reality was similarly pitched as a gaming peripheral with devices such as Microsoft Hololens and the Leap Motion One, but the technology has actually found more useful application in the automotive industry, for product design, and as a tool for game designers rather than gamers. Even Google came back in the picture with the Google Glass Enterprise Edition designed fopr industry applications rather than consumers.

    Apple is now showing renewed interest in immersive tech following its acquisition of VR entertainment firm NextVR. The company has been broadcasting immersive sports and entertainment events recorded using 360 degree cameras and intended for playback through any VR headset, with partnerships across the sports and music events industry. Apple bought the company and then pulled its apps from the Android store.

    The acquisition's timing may be related to the ongoing pandemic, as the future and safety of live events is now in question and virtual event attendance is becoming the new norm in the world of work; Apple may be betting on the same transformation affecting the entertainment industry long-term. Rumours have also surfaced that Apple is working on its own Google Glass style AR headsets.

    Source: CNN, Bloomberg, RoadToVR

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    Brendan is a Sync NI writer with a special interest in the gaming sector, programming, emerging technology, and physics. To connect with Brendan, feel free to send him an email or follow him on Twitter.

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