Dr. Jeff Norris, who was formerly the head of Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/VR) projects at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, has recently been hired by Apple to help the Cupertino-company develop future products in the emerging field of AR/VR, according to a report published this week by Bloomberg.
Dr. Norris, according to his website, founded the Mission Operations Innovation Office at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, where he was chiefly responsible for leading efforts to create new ways of controlling robots and spacecraft, utilizing a variety of AR/VR applications. He reportedly joined the team at NASA back in 1999, where he also facilitated a number of projects including the issuance of AR headsets to scientists on the ground in order to help them become familiar with the surface topography of Mars, as well as providing Microsoft HoloLens headsets to astronauts living in the International Space Station.
During his tenure at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Dr. Norris also helped develop the software that’s currently being used to control Mars exploration rovers from Earth.
Asking to remain anonymous since they were not authorized to speak openly about the company’s private hiring moves, sources who spoke to Bloomberg indicated that Dr. Norris joined Apple’s team earlier this year as a senior manager of Cupertino’s AR team, who’s supposedly working on a pair of AR glasses, as well as various AR/VR applications that could be implemented into future versions of the iPhone.
Apple’s desire to penetrate the blossoming field of AR/VR has been well documented, with CEO, Tim Cook, being particularly fired up about his company’s future in the AR/VR space. Not only is Apple rumored to be working on a pair of AR glasses, which could potentially be dubbed iGlass, but Cook has even likened the concept of AR to that of a smartphone, suggesting that it could one day become as much a part of our lives as eating.
Though the reality of an AR-infused Apple is somewhat far off, the company has previously expressed how it hopes to start delivering mass consumer AR products by as early as 2018, which would include various headsets, glasses, and perhaps a combination of software applications. Likewise, Apple’s currently in-progress self-driving car project, dubbed ‘Automated System’, could be largely dependent on some form of AR-based mapping solution.
Dr. Norris will be joining the ranks of other Apple hires from various industries, including Microsoft’s HoloLens team, Facebook’s recently acquired Oculus project, and elsewhere, to help bring Apple’s AR vision to life — we hope, sooner than later.