American tech giant Apple has reportedly acquired augmented Reality (AR) start-up Vrvana for $30 million in a bid to become a pioneer in the area.
Sources told TechCrunch the firm has come come to an agreement to buy the AR specialist, supporting rumours that it's planning to launch an AR headset by 2020.
Apple hasn't commented on the acquisition, but the deal shows that the firm is looking to increase its efforts and research in augmented reality.
Based in Canada, Vrvana has become a rising star in the augmented reality world. It's known for the Totem headset, which lets users manipulate virtual objects in a similar way to HoloLens from Microsoft.
"Totem's hand tracking and inside-out positional tracking empowers your workforce to manipulate virtual objects with their hands wherever they please," the firm explains on its website.
"Totem's ability to produce truly opaque blacks and seamlessly blend the real world with the virtual enables the creation of unique mixed reality experiences so credible that your customers will actually believe that they are in the action."
Vrvana has already worked with an impressive range of companies, including Audi, Valve and Tesla. So a deal with Apple would certainly add to the company's recent successes.
As we previously reported, the firm is said to be readying a headset for a 2019 launch, although it won't make its way into customers till 2020.
Ian Hughes, an analyst at 451 Research, said: " Augmented Reality gives the ability to present information integrated into our physical environment.
"AR changes the nature of what a display is, such as a TV, monitor or smartphone, all of which are solid screens, to a more natural human centric one with objects and data in the environment around us.
"We have evolved as spatial beings, but all our digital information and entertainment is presented on static flat surfaces, because that was the only way to do that.
"Consumer AR is still in a playful and gimmicky phase, and has been for a number of years, but with smartphone operating systems being given more AR capability more people are able to explore the concepts.
He expects the technology to make big waves in business. "The ease of development and availability of smartphone and tablet AR allows enterprise and industry to investigate the potential before investing in the current crop of AR headsets and glasses," he said.
"It is here in industry that AR starts to shine, hands free heads-up information for engineers helps them understand what they are working on in context.
He added: "This leads to efficiency and safety gains, plus it levels up less skilled workers too, including meaningful remote assistance from experts.
"These views a further enhanced by the increase in Internet of Things (IoT) data, digital twins, that provide instrumentation and analytical diagnostics from inside and around complex machinery.
"This data can be overlaid onto the engineer's view of the machine in-situ or at a remote location for training purposes. It is here we see AR as the user interface for IoT."
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