Apple’s VR team is real, here’s who they are

Chris Burns - Jan 29, 2016
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Apple’s VR team is real, here’s who they are

Apple’s latest acquisition once again tips their involvement in the virtual reality industry. Apple has been tipped – and essentially confirmed – to have acquired FlyBy Media, a group that has their hand in Indoor Mapping, Automotive (autonomous navigation), Drones (autonomous flight), and both virtual reality and augmented reality. They’ve worked with Google on Project Tango, a futuristic smartphone-based 3D-mapping system that’ll tie in with virtual reality in the near future.

Tim Cook’s VR Comment

The folks at FlyBy Media have taken their website down – believe it or not – at some point since the beginning of this month. Apple has essentially confirmed their acquisition of the group by providing the classic “we did, but we aren’t going to say” quote to the Financial Times: “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”

Below you’ll find a video showing Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) with car navigation – this is not FlyBy Media specifically, but it’s very much the sort of technology they’re working on.

According to an archived version of FlyByMedia.com, the company focuses on the following:

“Powered by cutting-edge computer vision, inertial sensing, and Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) technology, our platform captures maps of indoor or outdoor environments in real-time, and tracks the full 3D motion of the device. The platform includes state-of-the-art libraries for feature detection, recognition, 3D geometry, visual-inertial odometry, and pose graph optimization. Our software is hardware agnostic with demonstrable commercial-grade performance and is used to power Google’s Tango device.”

Also in this archive is the following:

“Along our journey, we have … developed a proprietary iPhone-based product to create scalable floor plans for integration into Apple’s MapsConnect program (to enable indoor blue dot navigation).”

The final bit in Flyby Media’s listing for “We Are Flyby” is as follows:

“We are now offering a commercial demo of our core tech (VFusion) and seeking to focus our next-phase development via strategic partnership.”

Apple has also acquired PrimeSense, Metaio, and Faceshift.

They’ve also gone ahead and registered patents that pertain to virtual reality and augmented reality technology as well. According to Financial Times, “a small team created prototypes and filed patents on punitive devices, before abandoning the idea as the technology was deemed immature.”

Will Apple make a virtual reality headset? Or will they leverage the tech inside the devices they already have on the market?

Will we have an iPhone that works like Google’s Project Tango? How about some mapping technology inside the upcoming Apple Car (the one we certainly don’t have confirmation of yet).

How about a gesture-controlled car with virtual reality packed within?


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