Apple has hired Valve and Xbox veteran Nat Brown to work on unspecified graphics technology, according to Twitter posts.
Brown was one of the first engineers assigned to Microsoft’s original Xbox. His most recent stints have concentrated on VR, including Valve’s now-defunct internal VR team, and advising VREAL, a streaming and discovery platform.
Apple has been concentrating mostly on the related field of AR. 2020 iPhones could include time-of-flight sensors, and the company may even be prepared to ship its rumored AR headset around the same time. That device may depend on a paired iPhone for processing.
While not always as demanding as VR, AR is still graphically intensive, not the least because it has to match surrounding environments and avoid making people motion sick. At WWDC 2019 Apple revealed ARKit 3, an update to its developer platform meant to simplify and expand the creation of AR-ready iOS apps.
Brown could be tasked with helping on ARKit, and/or bringing some version of it to the upcoming headset. Alternately he might simply be supporting non-AR frameworks like Metal.