Analyst: Apple’s ‘mixed reality’ plans will be as transformational as the iPhone

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster says Apple will become a leading force in virtual and augmented reality formats, with technology that will be as transformational as the iPhone, reports The Wrap.

Apple’s “mixed reality” is the Apple technology that “nobody is talking about,” he said, speaking at the Business Insider Ignition conference in New York City. 

“If there is this shift, essentially something that replaces the iPhone, there’s a big opportunity,” Munster said, adding that screens as we know them are poised to disappear. He said Apple’s hiring of mixed reality personnel has outstripped both Facebook, parent of VR start-up Oculus, and Google, which created the low-cost Cardboard headset.

In August it was announced that Apple had hired Nick Thompson, formerly the lead audio engineer for Microsoft's HoloLens augmented reality project. This could be further evidence that the company likely has an internal team working on potential augmented reality (AR) projects. 

AR is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are supplemented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. In other words, a view of reality is modified by a computing device.

In May Apple purchased Metaio, a company makes Metaio Creator, an AR authoring tool. Metaio says it allows for quick and easy creation and deployment of AR scenarios that are based on the latest tracking technologies. You can create your own AR scenarios within minutes, the company adds.

In 2013, Apple bought PrimeSense, an Israeli maker of chips that enable three-dimensional (3D) machine vision. The chip's 3D sensors are designed to enable nature interaction between people and devices and between devices and their surroundings. Its machine vision products map out 3D environments and track movements of bodies, faces and facial expressions.

What’s more, Apple has filed for several patents involving VR (virtual reality) and AR. One patent involves AR apps for iOS devices such as an iPhone and iPad — and which would seem handy if Apple ever made a version of Google Glasses. Another is for a a glasses-free, interactive device that can display holograms in 3D. 

Another patent filing indicates that Apple has considered a 3D imaging and display system that would work with Macs  and iOS devices, and which would scan and display simultaneously. Yet another patent filing describes a device for “projecting a source image in a head-mounted display apparatus for a user” to deliver “an enhanced viewing experience.