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Key members of Apple’s Augmented Reality team revealed – plus details on Apple’s future plans

Further details on Apple’s involvement in Augmented Reality have come to light as members of the iPhone-maker’s team dedicated to the technology have been revealed.

The group contains some names that previously worked for some major businesses, says a report from Bloomberg. These include former Dolby employee Mike Rockwell, who runs the team, Yury Petrov formerly of Oculus (the Facebook-acquired company that makes VR headset Oculus Rift,) as well as film industry veterans from studios like Weta Digital, Peter Jackson’s studio responsible for the Lord of the Rings effects, and Lucasfilm, responsible for the Star Wars franchise.

There are also numerous camera and optical lens engineers to push forward the technical elements of the various mixed-reality projects Apple is rumored to be working on. The report says this early R&D into potential uses for AR – which essentially means the overlaying of objects, information or avatars onto real-world imagery – will allow Apple to “dominate the next generation of gadgetry and keep people wedded to its ecosystem.”

Related: Virtual Reality 101: A beginner’s guide to VR & AR

Of course, the inclusion of team members from VR headset companies suggests Apple will be working on another wearable and there have already been numerous rumors surrounding smart glasses. And while Apple might have a better shot at succeeding with smart glasses where Google failed, Apple-branded glasses are described in the article as still being “a ways off.”

iPhone concept image featuring potential AR technology, by Gabor Balogh

iPhone concept image featuring potential AR technology, by Gabor Balogh

However, other rumors have focused on the inclusion of AR technology into future generations of the iPhone. i.e. Maps that integrate information onto the screen via the device’s camera, or the ability to hold up your device and instantly gain information about your surroundings. Perhaps, Apple are planning to go even further. The report continues…

“One of the features Apple is exploring is the ability to take a picture and then change the depth of the photograph or the depth of specific objects in the picture later; another would isolate an object in the image, such as a person’s head, and allow it to be tilted 180 degrees. A different feature in development would use augmented reality to place virtual effects and objects on a person, much the way Snapchat works.”

But will we see this kind of tech reach the next generation iPhone this year? Though there have been rumors that the iPhone 8’s camera will have AR capabilities, and potentially 3D technology built in, it’s unlikely we’ll see any worthwhile AR leaps during this cycle.

Apple’s interest in AR was ramped up in 2016, thanks in part to the smash success of Pokémon GO, followed by Apple’s own Tim Cook confirming Apple’s interest in the technology.