There are many reports and rumors about Apple’s interest in AR hardware, but the company has always been tight-lipped and secretive about what they are working on. Now a confirmed acquisition reveals Apple’s efforts in developing AR hardware. According to TechCrunch report, Apple has acquired Vrvana, an AR headset startup from Montreal, Canada, and the acquisition deal was said to be around $30 million.
Founded back in 2005, Vrvana is the maker of the Totem headset. The unreleased AR hardware is the only product shown on the company’s site, and though it has not shipped yet but received quite positive reviews. The headset is an “extended reality” device utilizing key technologies from both AR and virtual reality to allow for both experiences on a single headset. “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.
A number of the startup’s employees have joined Apple in California. The Vrvana site is currently still up, but it stopped updating social accounts and news in August of this year. Vrvana used to work with Valve, Tesla, Audi and others under Non-disclosure Agreement. It is not clear what Vrvana’s existing products, product roadmap or current business will go and how these sections will be integrated with Apple. But it can be referred that Totem’s technology would be built into a future Apple device.
In June Apple acquired SMI, an eye-tracking firm that was working on solutions for VR and AR headsets. Other related acquisitions included Flyby Media, metaio, Emotient, and Faceshift. Apple is said to be building an AR headset that features a dedicated display, a built-in processor, and a new “rOS” operating system. Multiple sources also hint that Apple’s AR headset is likely to enter the market in 2019.
“The display technology required, as well as putting enough stuff around your face – there’s huge challenges with that”, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook said to The Independent in answer to a question about whether it was building a headset, “The field of view, the quality of the display itself, it’s not there yet… We don’t give a rat’s about being first, we want to be the best, and give people a great experience. But now anything you would see on the market any time soon would not be something any of us would be satisfied with. Nor do I think the vast majority of people would be satisfied.”
Both Apple and Vrvana have not made any comment on this acquisition.