Apple has reportedly roped in a specialist from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for its augmented reality (AR) programmes.
The iPhone-maker has hired Jeff Norris, who founded the Mission Operations Innovation Office of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg.
At NASA, Norris was responsible for finding new methods to control spacecraft and robots in space by using virtual and augmented reality, according to his personal website.
Earlier this year, he joined Apple as a senior manager of the company’s augmented reality team, which is led by former Dolby Labs executive Mike Rockwell, the publication reported.
Currently, the team is involved in developing AR glasses and related features for upcoming versions of the iPhone.
Working for NASA projects, Norris delivered headsets to scientists on the ground to enable them to experience live views of Mars.
His duties at the space agency also included giving Microsoft’s HoloLens headsets to astronauts living in the International Space Station.
After joining NASA in 1999, Norris worked on the development of a new software programme to control Mars exploration rovers from the ground.
In November last year, Apple was said to be considering an expansion of its wearable portfolio with the inclusion of AR glass headsets. For this, the tech giant had reportedly held discussions with potential suppliers.
The device, which was still in an exploration phase, would connect wirelessly to iPhones, show images along with other data in the wearer’s field of vision, and could use augmented reality.
The report said the company ordered a small number of near-eye displays for testing but it did not obtain required components for larger scale production.
Apple is expected to introduce the product in 2018 at the earliest.
Last year, Apple CEO Tim Cook that the company would continue to make investments in AR technology, as it struggled with slowing sales of the iPhone.