Apple quietly working on virtual reality

San Francisco, January 30

Apple has a team secretly working on virtual and augmented reality gear in a budding challenge to Facebook-owned Oculus Rift and Microsoft HoloLens, the Financial Times reported on Friday.

The team’s ranks number in the hundreds, bolstered by talent hired away from companies working on altered-reality technology and buying start-ups in the fields, according to the Times. Apple also has a trove of patents related to technology that could be put to work in reality-altering gear.

Apple has not commented on reports it is exploring virtual reality, but CEO Tim Cook voiced interest while answering a question during a quarterly earnings call this week. “I don’t think it’s a niche,” Cook said of virtual reality. “I think it’s cool and has some interesting applications.”

Apple has been building headset prototypes for months, as per the Times.

Altered realities abounded at Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas early this month. Virtual reality headsets immersed people in fictional worlds, while augmented reality eyewear overlaid digital data on the scenes around them.