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Ex-Apple inventor describes how his VR patent works to solve car motion sickness

YouTube personality Mark Rober has talked about his time at Apple, including the reasoning behind his work on an augmented virtual display patent for the long-rumored Apple Car.

Mark Rober is best known as a YouTube star, teaching science with fantastical experiments and explaining the principles at play. He is less known as a former employee at Apple, who came up with an idea that could end up being used in the Apple Car.

In a clip from the Waveform podcast, Rober tells MKBHD about how he worked at Apple at the same time as he was gaining fame on Google's video platform.

During the video, Rober talks about the patent for a "Augmented Virtual Display," which could be used within a vehicle. The patent basically describes a VR system where the wearer is in a car, with the system taking into account the vehicle's motion.

Citing how 40% people suffer from some form of motion sickness, Rober asks "Wouldn't it be interesting if you could use virtual reality to solve that, because motion sickness is when your internal gyro doesn't match up with what your eye is seeing, so that's why if you're in the back seat and you can't see forward, you get motion sick because you don't know what's happening."

If you could know about the vehicle's movements and show that to the user in VR, "you could potentially not get motion sickness," he adds.

With the arrival of autonomous cars, Rober reckons people will have "all this free time but if you get motion sick, there's nothing you can do with it." Proposing VR or AR as using sunglasses rather than a headset, such as the so-called Apple Glass, Rober offers users could work on a notebook because the screen could be on a fake horizon with the screen in the sky, as "no-one gets motion sickness looking way over the horizon."

Since his work on the topic, Rober has noticed that Apple has continued to update the patent. "It feels like from my perspective they're, it's an interesting one for them."

On how Rober came up with the patent, he explains his manager told him "Hey dude, you're coming up with all these banger ideas on YouTube, like come up with a banger idea for us." He then says Apple's management is "very supportive there when you have ideas, they let you run with stuff and they have the funds to invest in it.

Rober also talked about dealing with Apple's infamous culture of secrecy, including how Apple approached him for potential hiring. However, he was told after joining that he couldn't make YouTube videos for his 250,000 subscribers.

After discussions and insisting he should continue with YouTube, he agreed with Apple that he couldn't mention the company's name nor his employment with them, and to wait three months to experience the culture of the company.

His first video after the three months was up turned out to be his most popular, "How to skin a watermelon," which stands at 124M views at the time of publication.

A year later, talkshow host Jimmy Kimmel asked Rober to make an appearance, prompting the YouTuber to check with Apple. "It gets bumped all the way up to Dan Riccio, who is like one below Tim Cook," Rober states.

Riccio's response to the query was "We should be focused on making great products," which Rober considered wasn't an outright "no." Apple "couldn't actually tell me no" to the appearance, he rationalized, proposing that Apple couldn't prevent him from canoeing using the same reason, and so went on the show without issue.

Rober has achieved considerable success following his departure of Apple, garnering 22.3 million YouTube subscribers and numerous TV appearances.