Apple Reportedly Acquired Montreal Based Vrvana, a Mixed Reality Headset Company with Hand Tracking Technologies
It's being reported that Apple has acquired Montreal based Vrvana a mixed reality headset company. As you could see by our cover graphic, the company's Totem mixed reality headset was awarded the best in its category at CES 2017. Last year Toms Hardware was at the Immersed trade show in Monaco and stated: "The Vrvana Totem mixed reality HMD is the most impressive thing I saw at the show." Totem's custom lenses that provide a significantly wider field of view than competitors displays were a hit. Below Vrvana executives talk up the AR capabilities of their headset which probably caught Apple's attention.
Below is photo of Vrvana's headset without its glass cover.
TechCrunch is reporting that Apple may have paid around $30 million for the company according to the sources. TechCrunch has an excellent record on announcing Apple acquisitions.
TechCrunch further noted that "The deal is significant because while we have seen reports and rumors about Apple's interest in AR hardware, the company has been very tight-lipped and generally is very secretive about completely new, future products. This acquisition is perhaps the clearest indicator yet of what the company is hoping to develop.
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's camera-based AR approach differs from competitors like Microsoft, which is utilizing transparent, projection-based displays for its HoloLens headset. The Totem holds a number of advantages over these systems, most notably in that it is able to overlay fully opaque, true-color animations on top of the real world rather than the ghost-like projections of other headsets which critically cannot display the color black. This allows the headset to do what it calls "seamless blend" transitions between VR and AR environments. You could read more about this story here.
As you could see in Vrvana's marketing material above, one of the company's strengths is 'hand tracking' technology which helps users manipulate virtual objects when wearing the headset. Hand tracking is one of the technologies that Apple's PrimeSense team in Israel has brought to Apple. Apple was granted a 3D hand tracking patent on November 7th. Other patents could be reviewed here: one and two with others in our 3D archive.
Below is a video covering a technical presentation from Vrvana from the Tools & Products Track at AWE USA 2017 - the largest conference for AR+VR in Santa Clara, California May 31- June 2, 2017.
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