Apple reportedly has hired esteemed virtual reality and augmented reality researcher Doug Bowman, according to a report Friday from The Financial Times.
The reported hire could be another stepping stone for Apple to go head-to-head with competitors Microsoft and Samsung in the lucrative virtual reality market.
"Apple is an iPhone company but they're also a platform," said Jack Narcotta, devices analyst at Technology Business Research. "This move doesn't put Apple in front of the others, like Facebook and Microsoft, but it does get them in the game."
Bowman most recently was a computer science professor at Virginia Tech where he served as director of the university's human-computer interaction centre before taking a sabbatical, according to Virginia Tech's website. Bowman was also the lead author of "3-D User Interfaces: Theory And Practice," as well as the author of several articles relating to virtual and augmented reality.
Apple did not reply to a request for comment before press time.
Several vendors are already investing in the virtual and augmented reality markets, and some even have products available.
Microsoft last year unveiled its HoloLens headset, which will use Windows 10 as a platform to support holographic computing, and the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset is set to be released in March.
In recent years, Apple has made investments in virtual reality through a handful of acquisitions. Most recently in the beginning of January, Apple acquired Emotient, a San Diego startup that makes artificial intelligence technology for analysing facial expression to detect emotions.
The company also acquired motion capture startup FaceShift in November, and augmented reality application startup Metaio last May.