Apple just made a significant hire in the virtual reality (VR) space: The iPhone maker has hired serial entrepreneur Arthur van Hoff, a founding executive of the Disney-backed VR startup Jaunt. Van Hoff started at Apple in a senior architect position this month, according to his Linkedin profile.
There’s no word on whether he will work on Apple’s still-unannounced augmented reality (AR) headset, or on other projects, but chances are he might be working with some of his old colleagues: Apple has hired a number of former Jaunt engineers over the past few years to work on AR, computer vision, camera systems and other projects. Van Hoff and Apple didn’t immediately respond to Variety’s requests for comment.
Van Hoff founded Jaunt in 2013, and served as its CTO until late 2018. He also briefly stepped into the CEO role in 2016. Jaunt had been one of the pioneering drivers of cinematic virtual reality; the company developed its own high-end camera for VR capture, and also a distribution platform for VR content. In 2015, it raised some $65 million in funding from Disney and others.
However, the company struggled to reconcile its aggressive plans, and the funding it had raised to support them, with the realities of a lagging VR market. In October, it laid off a significant portion of its staff, and refocused on mixed reality capture.
Before founding Jaunt, van Hoff had served as CTO at Flipboard, software and services CTO at Dell and principal engineer at Tivo during various stages of his career. More recently, he had been advising a number of startups, including VR camera maker Lucid and internet of things startup Ayla Networks. However, he ended those roles in March before starting at Apple, according to his Linkedin profile.
Apple has been working on an augmented reality headset with VR capabilities for some time. The company still hasn’t officially revealed its plans for this space, but a recent report suggested that it may start to manufacture the device as early as Q4 of this year.