Just days after we found out that Apple is working on its own augmented reality headset, we now learn that the company is accelerating its AR headset efforts with the acquisition of Montreal-based hardware maker Vrvana.
As Techcrunch reported on Tuesday, Nov. 21, Apple paid about $30 million to bring the company and its team aboard.
Recent reports have revealed that Apple's AR headset is already in development and expected to be completed by 2019 with a 2020 launch. Additionally, the company is expected to include rear-facing AR-capable depth sensors in its iPhones in 2019.
Apple has often demonstrated its willingness to spend big to acquire startups to meet its product goals. In fact, ARKit is largely based on work from Flyby Media, which Apple acquired in 2016. Similarly, Apple acquired Metaio, an augmented reality and computer vision company, in 2015, and now that startup's initial work is believed to serve as a core part of Apple's AR team.
So does this mean we'll get an Apple AR headset sooner than we thought? It's unlikely.
Vrvana's Totem headset, which impressed Next Reality in our initial reports, isn't quite ready for prime time. When considering Apple's reputation and track record for design over utility, it would be difficult to believe that Apple would ship hardware as bulky as the Totem, particularly when companies like Vuzix are on the verge of releasing hardware in a much more compact form factor.
What's more likely is that Apple covets Vrvana's application of technology within the headset, which it can use to fill areas of need in its team's own expertise. As usual, when approached by the site that broke the news of the acquisition, Apple declined to comment.
Nevertheless, it's now clear that Apple isn't just talking about AR, it's investing, in a big way, and an Apple AR headset now appears to be just a matter of time and meticulous Jony Ive design.
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