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Apple Bought Augmented Reality Headset Company Vrvana

Apple recently purchased Vrvana, a company that developed an augmented reality headset called Totem, reports TechCrunch.

Two sources with knowledge of the deal confirmed the acquisition, but Apple declined to comment and did not provide its usual acquisition statement. TechCrunch says Apple did not deny the story, though, and several employees who were previously with Vrvana are now with Apple.


Apple is said to have paid $30 million for Vrvana, and the deal may have taken place this summer. Vrvana's website is still up and running, but social media accounts ceased updates in August.

Vrvana developed a sort of mixed reality headset called Totem, which was never released. It was designed to combine both augmented and virtual reality technologies in a single headset, merging full VR capabilities with pass-through cameras to enable screen-based augmented reality features.

Essentially, Totem used a set of cameras to project real world images into its built-in 1440p OLED display, a somewhat unique approach that set it apart from competing products like Microsoft's HoloLens, which uses a transparent display to combine virtual and augmented reality. With Totem's approach, much richer virtual experiences were available, as full VR objects could be combined with a real-world view.

The built-in cameras were used to track the device's position in space, and additional infrared cameras were used to detect a user's hands. Several media sites were able to check out the Totem last year, and it received largely positive reviews.

Totem's technology could be built into a future Apple device, as multiple rumors suggest Apple is working on some kind of augmented reality headset or smart glasses product.

Apple is said to be building an AR headset that features a dedicated display, a built-in processor, and a new "rOS" operating system. The company is aiming to finish work on its augmented reality headset by 2019, and a finished product could be ready to ship as soon as 2020, should the project progress on schedule.

While Apple has acquired other augmented reality companies like Metaio, Faceshift, Flyby Media, and SensoMotoric Instruments, this is the first dedicated AR/VR headset hardware company Apple has purchased, signaling a deep interest in developing some kind of AR/VR wearable device.

Related Roundup: Apple VR Project


Top Rated Comments

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14 months ago

AR is so 6 years ago - it is like they living in a time warp when it comes to computing now. I guess when most your line up cant do VR you need to stick with AR.


Is that why Google spent so much on Tango, then quickly came out with ARCore (to allow AR on regular phones without Tango hardware) after seeing Apple release ARKit? You should also tell developers AR is old news so they can all stop rushing to develop Apps for a “dead-end” technology.

And what mobile devices can do VR? Answer: None.
Rating: 8 Votes
14 months ago

AR is so 6 years ago - it is like they living in a time warp when it comes to computing now. I guess when most your line up cant do VR you need to stick with AR.

VR is so overpriced and so 3 years ago.
unlike AR, which is free to everyone without having to buy extra hardware.
Rating: 6 Votes
14 months ago

Why is Apple so interested in AR?
I don’t see a need for it.


Perhaps not now, but in a decade this technology will be ubiquitous. There’s an awful lot of potential and we’re barely tickling the iceberg at this point.
Rating: 4 Votes
14 months ago

Did Apple do this many acquisitions with Steve around? Seems like they're just trying to buy out ideas instead of coming up with their own. And with this many acquisitions, they're still not as innovative as when Steve was around.

Some things that Apple acquired under Steve Jobs the pretty much impact every Apple product we see today:

SoundJam MP
Emagic
FingerWorks
P.A. Semi
Intrinsity
C3 Technologies

Google and Microsoft acquire as much if not moreso than Apple. Are they buying out ideas instead of coming up with their own?
Rating: 4 Votes
14 months ago
AR glasses, with pass through cameras ...damn, Doc Brown was spot on ...




btw, these are the android versions:

Rating: 3 Votes
14 months ago

$30 million is cash from the small change box


Based upon Apple's projections for the upcoming holiday quarter, they will make $30 million every 1h 21m.
Rating: 3 Votes
14 months ago
Why is Apple so interested in AR?
I don’t see a need for it. A bit like Siri really.
Rating: 3 Votes
14 months ago
I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say I wonder what Apple’s headset/glasses will look like if it does eventually come out.
Rating: 2 Votes
14 months ago

How do you pronounce Vrvana?

Well, I guess now it's pronounced 'Apple'
Rating: 2 Votes
14 months ago

$30 million is cash from the small change box.
It could be Apple filling their patent war chest, if Vrvana have any granted or in the pipeline.
I seriously doubt it's a product they'll ship, e.g. Beats, as VR tech isn't mainstream enough yet.

I find it interesting that all the visual tech has promised so much but yet to see mass use and adoption.
For example instant messaging became the most popular form of communications with video chat the least.
The original Blade Runner got that badly wrong as did just about ever other SciFi author and futurist.
VR's been around since the mid-90's (I saw a head set in Fry's in Palo Alto in '95) and it still isn't a mainstream tech product.

My first exposure to AR (even though nobody was calling it AR at the time) was in 1990. I was in the research lab of a company that previously made military hardware but had recently been acquired by a automotive company. They showed me an infrared camera that could be mounted on a helmet and the output of the camera was shown in a head worn, 1" CRT right in front of the wearer's eye. It allowed a soldier to see "reality" (i.e. a bush or tent) with one eye and "enhanced vision" (i.e. the thermal image of what was behind the bush or inside of the tent) with the other eye.

I can easily see AR being valuable in a number of industrial applications such as production managers / manufacturing engineers being able to walk up to a machine on a factory floor and seeing information about the machine (oil temperature, time until routine maintenance is required, today's production quantities, etc.) displayed over the machine.
Rating: 2 Votes

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