Apple buys startup targeted on lenses for AR glasses

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By Stephen Nellis

Aug 29 (Reuters) – Apple Inc has obtained a startup targeted on building lenses for augmented reality eyeglasses, the business confirmed on Wednesday, a sign Apple has ambitions to make a wearable system that would superimpose electronic data on the actual globe.

Apple verified it obtained Longmont, Colorado-based Akonia Holographics. “Apple purchases lesser firms from time to time, and we commonly never focus on our objective or strategies,” the Iphone maker said in a statement.

Akonia could not instantly be arrived at for remark. The business was founded in 2012 by a group of holography researchers and had initially targeted on holographic facts storage ahead of shifting its efforts to building shows for augmented reality eyeglasses, in accordance to its internet site.

In augmented actuality, electronic details is overlaid on the real environment as in the well-liked sport Pokemon Go. Mobile telephones use their digital camera procedure to do this on the phone’s screen, but main technological know-how corporations are racing to build eyeglasses that will show electronic facts on transparent lenses.

Akonia mentioned its display technological innovation permits for “skinny, clear clever glass lenses that display lively, comprehensive-shade, large industry-of-perspective visuals.” The firm has a portfolio of additional than 200 patents linked to holographic devices and materials, according to its website.

Akonia also said it raised $11.6 million in seed funding in 2012 and was trying to get supplemental funding. It was unclear whether that funding ever materialized or who the firm’s buyers ended up.

The buy price and date of the acquisition could not be realized, however just one government in the augmented actuality business claimed the Akonia staff had grow to be “pretty tranquil” about the earlier six months, implying that the deal could have happened in the 1st 50 percent of 2018.

Apple has a background of purchasing smaller providers whose systems present up several years later on in its products and solutions. In 2013, Apple obtained a smaller Israeli agency identified as PrimeSense that manufactured a few-dimensional sensors. The Iphone X, released previous yr, utilized a equivalent sensor to electrical power facial recognition features.

Bloomberg previous 12 months described that Apple was developing augmented reality glasses that could ship as early as 2020. Apple declined to remark on its designs or products and solutions.

But the business past year introduced augmented reality applications for its iPhones and iPads, and CEO Tim Prepare dinner has termed augmented truth a “big and profound” engineering enhancement.

“This is a single of these big matters that we are going to appear again at and marvel on the start off of it,” Cook said of augmented truth on a meeting call with buyers last year.

The Akonia acquisition is the 1st crystal clear indicator of how Apple might handle one of the most challenging troubles in augmented truth hardware: Making crystal very clear optical shows skinny and gentle plenty of to healthy into eyeglasses equivalent to every day frames with images vibrant sufficient for outdoor use and suited to mass manufacturing at a comparatively minimal cost.

Augmented truth headsets now on the marketplace this kind of as Microsoft Corp’s HoloLense and startup Magic Leap’s Magic Leap A person the two use darkened lenses and are intended for indoor use. The two are also meant for application developers screening the engineering and price a number of thousand dollars. (Reporting by Stephen Nellis Editing by Greg Mitchell and Cynthia Osterman)

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Apple purchases startup concentrated on lenses for AR glasses