Report: Apple poached augmented reality expert from NASA to work on glasses

Apple is putting some serious minds to work on augmented reality.

nasa hololens

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All signs are pointing to Apple’s work on an augmented reality device of some sort, and now Apple has a new addition working on that effort: NASA’s Jeff Norris.

According to Bloomberg, Apple hired Norris away from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, where he founded the Mission Operations Innovation Office, to work on its augmented reality products earlier this year.

jeff norris Jeff Norris

Jeff Norris testing Microsoft's HoloLens in microgravity environments.

Norris’s experience is, frankly, crazy cool. His work over the last few years has been totally consumed with virtual and augmented reality in space. Norris partnered with Microsoft to develop software called OnSight, which lets scientist on Earth work virtually on Mars by wearing Microsoft’s HoloLens headsets. Norris also put pairs of HoloLens sets on the International Space Station to let astronauts show NASA staff on the ground exactly what they’re seeing using the Skype app for HoloLens. Folks at home can instruct the astronauts by drawing holograms that are viewable in the headset. (You can read more about Norris’s projects on his website.)

Neat, right? So what do these projects have to do with Apple? Rumor has it the company is working on augmented reality features for the iPhone 8 camera, but they’re also reportedly developing augmented reality devices—like a pair of glasses—we probably won’t see until next year at the earliest. Norris is on that team, working under former Dolby Labs technology chief Mike Rockwell. The team also includes former HoloLeans, Oculus, and THX staffers.

Apple is clearly very serious about augmented reality. And while a Google Glass-like device isn’t exactly where we imagined Apple going, maybe the company will succeed where Google so spectacularly failed. Anything is possible.

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