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Has Apple put together a secret virtual reality squad?

Apple has reportedly put together a secret team of experts who are developing virtual reality headsets to compete with the likes of Microsoft's HoloLens and Facebook's Oculus Rift.

According to the FT, the research team is made up of hundreds of staff from various firms acquired by Apple in recent times, including staff poached from Microsoft and a camera start-up called Lytro.

Combine this with Apple's recent hiring of one of the world's leading VR researchers and Tim Cook's nod to the project in the company's last financial report - "It is really cool and has some interesting applications" - and it becomes clear that VR is something of a priority for the cupertino-based firm.

Ben Wood, analyst at CCS Insight said: 'I'd wager that there is a substantial team within Apple figuring out how the company will play a role in this technology. It certainly can't let rivals such as Facebook, Google and Samsung run away with the market, particularly given the groundswell of momentum building around smartphone ­based virtual reality."

Cook an co. certainly don't have any time to spare, as Facebook recently announced the start of Oculus Rift preorders for $599 (£420) - a price which has received a mixed response - with delivery expected in March.

Virtual reality seems certain to be the next big thing in consumer electronics and the race for pole position amongst the Silicon Valley elite is well and truly on.

Image source: Shutterstock/Wayne0216