What's Steve Cook planning for AR and VR gadgets? Here are three possibilities.
Apple is doing a great job of hinting that it's very serious about virtual reality. The company recently confirmed a Financial Times report that it hired VR expert and Virginia Tech computer-science professor Doug Bowman, also the head of the university's Center for Human-Computer Interaction. Apple has also acquired three companies working in either VR or AR (augmented reality) during the past year: AR company Metaio, motion capture startup Faceshift, and expression analysis company Emotient.
苹果公司不断向公众预示了其对虚拟现实技术的高度重视。苹果公司在最近的财经时报上一则报道中证实其雇用了VR专家以及Virginia理工大学电脑科学教授Doug Bowman，Doug Bowman同时也是这个大学人机交互中心的带头人。在过去一年中苹果公司也与其他三家VR和AR公司展开合作，他们分别是：Metaio AR公司，Faceshift动作捕捉公司，Emotient表情分析公司。
So what does Bowman's hire suggest Apple has planned for VR and AR? It's impossible to know for sure, but here are three possible scenarios.
1. A headset to replace the iPhone.
Piper Jaffray senior analyst Gene Munster recently told the Wall Street Journal he thinks Apple is pursuing an AR product, like electronic glasses or an Apple version of Google Glass, that could potentially replace the iPhone one day. This type of device could allow consumers to scroll through applications without obscuring visibility of the real world. Even if Apple has no official plans to produce such a product, Munster told the WSJ that Apple will still allocate resources to the technology "just to hedge their bets," and that he thinks Apple has a small team of people working on AR.
Piper Jaffray公司高级分析师Gene Munster最近告诉华尔街日报，他认为苹果公司正在研发一种AR设备类似于苹果版谷歌眼镜，这类产品很有可能会取代iphone。这类设备在允许用户使用各种APP时也能顾及到周围的世界。即使苹果目前没有明确计划要生产这类产品，但根据Munster向华尔街日报提供的信息，苹果公司将会调配一部分研发资源用于该技术的发展。“苹果这样的做法是设法对冲赌注”并且他认为苹果有一小部分员工正在对AR产品进行研究。
2. A gadget to make all screens a thing of the past.
Dreaming even bigger, Apple could be envisioning a headset that would make all other products with a screen--tablets, computers, TVs--obsolete, as suggested by Tech Insider. VR has been referred to as "the last medium," suggesting that as soon as VR and AR technology reach a tipping point of consumer adoption, there will be no need for any other device with a screen. Everything from computing to entertainment to apps will be achievable through one singular device.
3. Apple's electric car.
Despite Bowman's extensive experience in VR and AR, there is also a chance that his hiring is actually related to Apple's secretive car project. Why? As the FT reported, car companies including BMW have been experimenting with "gesture control," where drivers can use physical gestures to control infotainment systems. The benefit of the technology is the ability to operate electronic features while continuing to look at the road ahead, rather than look down at a screen and risk distracted driving. While it seems unlikely that Apple would hire a VR expert for something other than VR, Bowman's expertise in "human-computer interaction" does lend itself to this type of technology.
Regardless of Apple's specific plans, it's hard to imagine the company not offering some sort of product or service related to VR and AR technology in the next few years. Investment in the sector has grown for the past six consecutive quarters, helping the industry claim a spot on Inc.'s most recent list of the Best Industries for Starting a Business.