A handful of recent Apple corporate job postings suggest the company is experimenting with virtual and augmented reality hardware and software, an area of intense interest some believe will be the next tech battleground.
A batch of corporate positions listed on Apple's jobs website reveals that the company is looking to build a team of specialists to work on hardware and software programs relating to virtual reality technology.
One of the positions, first spotted on Thursday and titled "Sr. Display Systems Engineer," seeks a candidate who will work with software, electrical and mechanical engineers on virtual reality hardware. Duties include testing displays for virtual environments, working with display vendors on custom hardware, designing and selecting hardware and software components for "a variety" of VR environments and developing software for display support.
The job description notes Apple is seeking applicants who can "understand how to drive displays from multiple synced sources at high frame rates with low latency" and is familiar with the pitfalls of developing "extremely high fidelity VR environments."
One of the hurdles to successfully realizing a virtual reality headset is display latency and congruency with head movement. FaceBook-owned Oculus, for example, switched from LCD to OLED panels in its latest development kit for the technology's low-latency capabilities.
The VR company is also experimenting with low persistence of vision implementations, which help reduce motion blur and judder by essentially strobing pixels at a high rate instead of keeping those pixels illuminated persistently. Coupled with head tracking technology, low persistence tech translates into a more accurate representation of the virtual world and helps reduce nausea some users experience due to the disconnect between what they see and feel.
Apple also posted two listings for a "VR/AR Programmer" in both software and hardware engineering categories, one hit the website in December while another showed up earlier this month. Unlike the display engineer positions, the programming jobs focus on the software that may one day be used on Apple devices with built-in virtual reality capabilities.
Recently, Apple has shown increased interest in virtual and augmented reality technology. Last week, the company was awarded a U.S. patent for head-mounted virtual reality hardware that uses an iPhone for a display, while other inventions point to head-tracking implementations similar to those
In 2013, the company spent a rumored $360 million on Israel-based firm PrimeSense, best known for its work on Microsoft's original Kinect motion tracking accessory for Xbox. Late last year, Apple received the first IP reassignment from the acquisition in a patent covering hardware support for 3D mapping and computer vision.