By hiring the prominent VR researcher, Doug Bowman, the question we’re all left pondering is if Apple is finally getting into Virtual Reality.

Is Apple hiring a VR expert, breaking new ground?It is not known whether Doug Bowman, who’s currently on leave from his day job at Virginia Tech, will spearhead research at Apple for developing new unannounced technology such as VR headsets, or if he will focus on incorporating the feature into existing products.

Doug Bowman is a computer science professor at Virginia Tech, where he’s also director of the Human-Computer Interaction Center and principal investigator of the 3D Interaction Group.

He is a specialist who has researched VR immersion and 3D user interface designs, and he is currently working on some 38 projects at the university.

With this month’s purchase of the AI emotion recognition developer Emotient, and last year’s buyouts of augmented reality (AR) startup Metaio and motion capture provider Faceshift, Apple is stockpiling talents and technology connected to VR related providers.

This may be similar to what Apple did when developing the Apple Watch and their much rumoured electric car. Following this logical path, it is most likely that Bowman will help Apple build a VR platform.

The next few years will most likely see a huge increase in the use of VR and AR applications, ranging from business and industry to private consumers and it will pave the way for a bigger market than what is currently anticipated.

As HTC CEO, Cher Wang, tells the Telegraph: “We feel that we should apply our best design to different type of sectors. Yes smartphones are important, but to create a natural extension to other connected devices like wearables and virtual reality is more important”.

This development will happen with or without giants like Apple. Maybe Apple is finally recognizing what others have already discovered, that AR and VR are computing’s next frontier.