Apple acquires the virtual/augmented reality startup Vrvana for $30 million as it continues to work on its own AR headset.
As Apple is reportedly working on an AR headset – that is expected to be shipped in 2020 – the company acquired a startup from Montreal, Canada to contribute to the project.
Few sources claim that the deal was worth $30 million, however, neither Apple nor Vrvana have officially confirmed it. Both the companies refused to comment when asked about this latest deal. Reports are also claiming that a number of Vrvana employees have joined Apple in California.
Vrvana is the maker of the Totem VR headset that was never shipped to the consumers but had a fantastic review from those who were lucky enough to get it early. The Totem headset, as defined by Vrvana is an “extended reality” device that utilizes key technologies from both AR and VR.
Apple has always been very tight-lipped about its new products and features and therefore hadn’t revealed much information about the AR headset it’s working on. However, the acquisition of Vrvana does hints what the iPhone owner is planning to create.
The Totem headset has a form factor matching all the present headsets but is truly unique in its technology. The headset replicates the outside world through several forward-facing pass-through cameras instead of transparent, projection-based displays used by Microsoft in the HoloLens Headset. The Totem headset holds a number of advantages over competitors and out of those advantages the most notable one is that it overlays fully opaque, true color animations over the real world rather than the ghost-like projections of other headsets.
A major drawback of these headsets is that there is often a noticeable delay between the cameras capturing the outside world and displaying it in-headset. However, Vrvana takes the lead here (again) by reducing that time to 3 milliseconds only.
The Totem headset can be used for many purposes including gaming and entertainment however one key focus for Vrvana is enterprise usage.
“Totem’s hand tracking and inside-out positional tracking empowers your workforce to manipulate virtual objects with their hands wherever they please,” the company said in promotional materials on the headset.
Apple’s has been visibly focusing on enterprise verticals lately. In August CEO Tim Cook declared enterprise as one key focus for Apple’s AR ambitions. Moreover, the company in its last earnings reported double-digit growth in the field.
Vrvana, that was founded in 2005 hasn’t disclosed much about its funding. TechCrunch, which was first to report the news says that the company had raised less than $2 million.
Apart from Vrvana, Apple has also acquired many other startups related to the AR and VR technology, underlining its interest in creating the tech that powers the hardware.
SMI, an eye-tracking German firm was acquired by Apple in June, whereas other similar acquisitions include: Flyby Media, Emotient, metaio and Faceshift.