As most of you are well aware, this time of the year is Apple iPhone rumor season and not wanting to be left out, let’s talk about Apple incorporating virtual reality capture and viewing into the iPhone 7.
Don’t forget about Apple when it comes to VR
With Facebook, Microsoft, Google, HTC, Samsung and many others working on VR products quite publicly, it’s easy to forget that Apple has a vested interest in this arena owing to the company’s notoriously tight-lipped culture and unveiling of new products behind a shroud of secrecy.
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Apple has every reason to be working in this area and a recent piece in the Financial Times cast away some of the mystery behind Apple’s efforts in virtual reality.
The report spoke of Apple’s work to build a VR team:
The secret research unit includes hundreds of staff from a series of carefully targeted acquisitions, as well as employees poached from companies that are working on next-generation headset technologies including Microsoft and camera start-up Lytro, according to people familiar with the initiative.
The company’s latest acquisition in the area is Flyby Media, an augmented reality start-up that uses let mobile devices “see” the world around them. Fly-by’s team worked closely with Google in developing software for its 3D positioning technology Project Tango.
Additionally, Apple hired Doug Bowman one of the foremost Virtual Reality experts and computer science professors in the United States in mid-January.
This interest in VR extends to the top of Apple with Tim Cook saying [in January], “In terms of VR, I don’t think it’s a niche. It’s really cool and has some interesting applications.”
iPhone 7 and VR with dual-lens camera?
Earlier this month, rumors began to swirl around the possibility of the iPhone 7 coming out-the-box with a dual-lens camera for VR capture.
At the beginning of this month, DigiTimes published a report that claimed that Largan Technology in Taiwan as well as other lens makers from Asia had begun sending dual-lens cameras to Apple for testing. As Largan supplies about 60% of Apple’s cameras at present, it’s believed that the addition of the other lens makers would be to make sure that Largan has backup if they cannot continue to work at this rate.
Another report, this time by KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo (in a note to investors) suggested that Apple is prepared to launch a special version of the iPhone 7 Plus with a dual-lens camera but that the other two iPhones (iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus) would retain the iSight camera that continues to get better.
While there is really no reason to believe that Apple will be unveiling a dual-lens camera with the iPhone 7 but Christopher Grayson in an extensive post at Giganti.Com has suggested that it’s only a matter of time.
Firstly, Grayson points out that if Apple were to begin using a dual-lens camera to capture VR, it would all of a sudden become a clearing house for VR content created with a stereoscopic camera as iPhone users upgrade their phones more frequently than Android users. So, with a camera that produces these videos in conjunction with a dedicated app, iPhone 7 users would provide a massive amount of videos.
He also believes that it’s just a matter of time before Apple introduces a streaming app similar to Periscope, Meerkat and more recently MeVee and by doing so with a dual-lens camera capable of shooting VR, Apple’s platform would establish it as a leader.