Apple is boosting its in-house augmented reality efforts, if a new report is to be believed. The company has hired a famed Twitter engineer, who has publicly expressed a strong interest in exploring the technology further. It comes as rumors circulate that Apple plans to launch a standalone headset within the next three years.
A report from MacGeneration (translated by MacRumors) claimed on Tuesday that Michael Abbott is set to start working at Apple. Abbott was a top engineer at Twitter before moving to Kleiner Perkins in 2011 as one of its nine general partners. He left last summer, with Recode reporting that he aimed to return to an operational role.
It’s unclear which department he will be working with at Apple, but a blog post he wrote at the time of his departure gives some clues:
Ultimately, my desire to discover and invest in the next new thing became eclipsed by my desire to get my hands dirty again and build the next new thing. I have come to understand that my real passion lies in the grappling to understand, develop and build new technologies. Like you, perhaps, I am captivated by what AR could enable, and fascinated by ‘real’ applications of AI/ML, or how security techniques from the world of geopolitics are influencing enterprise technologies.
Apple has made no secret about its interest in artificial intelligence and augmented reality. The iOS 11 software update revealed last June offers a range of developer tools designed for making augmented reality apps easier to produce, while the A11 Bionic chip included in the iPhone X that launched in November offers superior machine learning capabilities. CEO Tim Cook has even said that augmented reality’s potential to transport users to new worlds while maintaining sociable eye contact makes him want to “yell out and scream.”
It’s unclear how Apple’s augmented reality efforts will expand, but a November report suggests these efforts fall under the codename “T288.” The launch of a standalone headset is planned for 2020, with an “rOS” app store offering a range of creations for users to ry. Initial uses of iOS 11 functions include an Ikea room planner than enables users to preview furniture in their home:
The company’s AR efforts are just getting started. With Abbott on the team, Apple would have one more employee passionate about AR under its roof. Inverse has contacted Apple for comment on this issue.