Why Is Apple Hiring NASA Experts?

By Donna Bellevue , Apr 26, 2017 05:17 AM EDT

Apple has hired well-known NASA expert who is a heavy-hitter in the field of augmented reality (AR). The tech giant has reportedly tapped the American space agency's staff Jeff Norris to work on its secretive smart AR glasses project. Mr. Norris is a specialist in the new technology and has been employed at the space firm since earlier this year.

As an important contributor to the space agency's AR projects, Mr. Norris has reportedly been working as a senior manager of the tech giant's AR team. His department is said to be developing prototype glasses that can project AR visuals. The iPhone maker aims to advance the application of AR technology by using it in the development of new products, and even possibly on its iPhone line.

According to Daily Mail, Apple picked Mr. Norris for his significant accomplishments in NASA, which primarily focuses on AR technology. Mr. Norris has led mission operations innovations for the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He has also created human interfaces that are helping develop more controlled robots and spacecraft.

However, what reportedly caught Apple's eye was his multi-project initiative applying virtual and augmented reality to space exploration three years ago. Per MacRumors, it was also under Norris' leadership that the JPL Ops Lab provided the Microsoft HoloLens to astronauts working at the International Space Station. He was also responsible for developing software that allows astronauts to virtually work on Mars with the HoloLens.

With Mr Norris' AR expertise, Apple hopes to enhance the technology for both virtual reality headsets and augmented reality smart glasses. Apple aims to launch the latter in 2018, which according to rumors will be incorporated into the iPhone. Perhaps we can even see AR applications early as the iPhone 8 is set to be released this September.

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