CUPERTINO, Calif. – Just recently, it was reported that Apple has now acquired Vrvana, an augmented reality headset startup based in Montreal, Canada.
This latest move from the company is believed to be part of their aim to create and make augmented reality headset available by 2020. Apparently, they purchased the startup creator of the Totem headset to help them get to their goal. Several sources have said that the deal was made for about 30 million dollars.
While there is still no comment from Apple regarding this, they have not denied the story either. Vrvana is tight-lipped too and hasn’t given their side.
This issue is only the first that ties Apple to anything about their interest in developing augmented reality (AR) hardware. While there were rumors and reports about the company’s plans, nothing had come out before this source-confirmed acquisition. Apple has been very secretive about their latest and future products.
To this day, the website of Vrvana is still up. However, it has already stopped updating news and its social accounts in August of this year. At this early time and yet without any comments from either side, it is still unclear as to what existing products of Vrvana will be under the Apple’s team.
Vrvana has already worked with Tesla, Audi, Valve, and other companies that are under a non-disclosure agreement or NDA. The Totem headset which is still unreleased is the only product that can be seen on the company website. It is considered as an extended reality device that utilizes key technologies from both virtual reality (VR) and AR to provide both experiences in one headset.
This augmented reality headset has the similar form factor to other VR headsets. But it relies on several pass-through and forward-facing cameras to imitate the outside world on the device’s OLED displays. It also features an infrared camera that can track the hands of the user and a camera system-enabled 6DoF tracking, also known as 3D space tracking.
The AR approach of Vrvana is quite different from its competitors. It can overlay true-color and fully opaque animations instead of the ghost-like projection which cannot display color black of other headsets. It is what creates a seamless transition between AR and VR environments.
This extended reality technology is typical for consumer applications, but Vrvana is more focused on enterprise usage. The company said on the promotional materials for its augmented reality headset that the hand tracking of Totem and its inside-out tracking enable users to manipulate objects using their hands.
The focus of Vrvana is somewhat similar to Apple, to pursue various enterprise verticals for both its own and the partnerships it has with several IT providers like Cisco, SAP, and IBM. Its CEO, Tim Cook, stated that the primary focus of the company’s AR goals is enterprise.
To date, there are quite some startup employees that are now working with Apple in California. The company has also made several acquisitions that are in line with its interest and ambition for developing the technology. June of this year, Apple has purchased SMI which was an eye-tracking firm that was working on AR and VR headset solutions. Some recent acquisitions also include Emotient, Flyby Media, Faceshift, and Metaio.
This news is yet the clearest indication of what the company hopes to develop, shipping augmented reality headset and other AR hardware.