Apple hires lead Microsoft HoloLens audio engineer; suggests augmented reality product in the works

Talk that Apple could be working on an augmented reality project of its own intensified Monday with news that the iPhone maker poached Nick Thompson, the lead audio engineer for Microsoft’s HoloLens augmented reality project.

According to Piper Jaffray’s analyst Gene Munster, Apple could possibly be working on its own augmented reality technology. The analyst has heard whispers of Apple working some kind of augmented reality device from within the industry.

Apple had acquired a German startup called Metaio earlier this year, which had more than 171 patents related to augmented reality technology to its name. These patents would put Apple at the 11th position in terms of number of augmented reality related patents held, though it is still behind the likes of Google, Samsung and Microsoft who have already displayed what their virtual reality headsets are capable of to the public.

“We believe Apple’s early involvement in the space suggests the company is preparing for the next evolution of computing,” Munster wrote. “Additionally, we believe Apple’s evolving fashion advantage means they can uniquely develop products that consumers will actually want vs. prototype style offerings today.”

Microsoft HoloLens
Microsoft’s HoloLens project is a head-mounted display with see-through lenses that project interactive holographic images into the view of the user. It’s powered by a version of Windows 10 called Windows Holographic and contains a high-end CPU, GPU a dedicated holographic processor and a variety of sensors.

Since audio also plays a key part in augmented reality, Apple recently hired a lead engineer from Microsoft’s HoloLens team. The engineer, Nick Thompson, had previously worked at Apple for 7 years as a senior engineering manager. He was responsible for the audio system found inside the Macs released in early 200s and the first-generation Apple TV.


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