Apple is reportedly teaming up with an expert from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for its “secretive” AR glasses. Leaks surfaced last week hinting that the Cupertino tech giant is currently working on a “new prototype” related to an eyewear.
Earlier this week, sources revealed that Apple recently hired one of the biggest names in augmented reality (AR) business, Jeff Norris. According to reports, the iPhone maker has hired the well-known specialist in hopes of pushing a successful new line of products, particularly smart glasses.
According to reports, Norris, an expert in AR technology from NASA, has been employed by Apple since earlier this year. Norris serves as a senior manager for Apple’s AR team run by former Dolby Labs executive Mike Rockwell. The said team is expected to develop prototype glasses that can project AR visuals.
Norris, who has over 70 awards, founded the Mission Operations Innovation Office of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab. He created new human interfaces that aim to control spacecraft and robots in space using virtual and augmented reality.
Norris’ significant projects in NASA include providing headsets for scientists on the ground that enable them to experience live views on Mars and Microsoft Corp. HoloLens headsets to astronauts assigned to the International Space Station. He also helped create a software that controls Mars exploration rovers. The NASA expert’s multi-project initiative applying virtual and augmented reality to space exploration probably caught Apple’s interest, reports claim. However, Norris has not confirmed his involvement with Apple’s rumored project.
Adding more to speculations that Apple is working on smart glasses were the leaked incident reports compiled by an Environment Health and Safety contractor working for the tech giant. Sources revealed that the leaked reports, sent out on April 14, is titled “Impact Descriptions Reported in [Santa Clara Valley] from Last Month” with over 70 different incidents.
Several recorded incidents revealed that some employees suffered from eye pain and discomfort after trying out a new prototype, which many assumed to be iGlasses. A report on February 21 stated an incident wherein the subject was required “medical treatment beyond first aid.”
“After BT4 user study, user advised study lead, that she experienced discomfort in her eye and said she was able to see the laser flash at several points during the study. Study lead referred her to optometrist and secured prototype unit for analysis,” the report revealed.
Another report also mentioned an employee suffering from eye pain, “Employee reported eye pain after working with new prototype, thought it may be associated with use. He noticed that the security seal on the magenta (outer) case had been broken and had thought the unit may have been tampered with.”
This is not the first time Apple has been rumored to be interested in AR technology. Last year, the company’s CEO Tim Cook expressed his interest in AR, calling it a “core technology.” Cook also stated that AR might be a bigger business in the long run than VR.
“There’s virtual reality and there’s augmented reality – both of these are incredibly interesting. But my own view is that augmented reality is the larger of the two, probably by far.”
“Virtual reality sort of encloses and immerses the person into an experience that can be really cool,” Cook added, “but probably has a lower commercial interest over time. Less people will be interested in that.”
With all the reported leaks and endless speculations, the Cupertino pride remains secretive about their alleged iGlasses. It remains unclear whether or not the highly-anticipated AR glasses will finally make its way to Apple devices soon.
[Featured Image by Eric Thayer/Getty Images]