Apple has mysteriously started sending employees to a lab at Stanford

GettyImages 470839848GettyStanford University’s Jeremy Bailenson demos a virtual reality experience.

In another sign that Apple is seriously developing virtual reality technology, Apple employees have recently started making monthly visits to Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Stanford’s influential VR lab is a common stop for technology executives looking to learn more about the technology. For example, shortly before Facebook acquired Oculus, CEO Mark Zuckerberg paid the center a visit.

And now Apple is stopping by. Director Jeremy Bailenson shared the anecdote while speaking at a Wall Street Journal conference in Half Moon Bay, California:

“Apple hasn’t come to my lab in 13 years — except they have come three times in the last three months. They come and they don’t say a word, but there’s a data point for you,” Bailenson said.

Apple’s ambition in the worlds of virtual and augmented reality are a subject of intense speculation. The company has reportedly assembled a team of hundreds to work on the technology, and has purchased four related companies in the past few years.

Apple has also hired Doug Bowman, a VR expert and director of the Center for Human-Computer Interaction at Virginia Tech.

It’s an “open secret” that Apple is also working on a car, and its interest in augmented reality could be related to that project. The company has also patented a concept for a portable virtual reality headset.

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