Apple has acquired Denver-based startup Akonia Holographics, that specialises in manufacturing augmented reality waveguide lenses -- for an undisclosed sum.
The acquisition clearly indicates that Apple is planning to ride high in the augmented reality headset market and is investing resources into developing such technologies.
“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally don’t discuss our purpose or plans,” Techcrunch.com quoted an Apple spokesperson as saying.
In 2017, Apple acquired Vrvana, a mixed-reality headset company with a device that offered users pass-through augmented reality experiences on a conventional opaque display.
And while the waveguide displays have become the standard for augmented reality headsets, the latest acquisition gives a clearer picture on Apple’s ambitions for augmented reality devices.
Waveguide displays project an image into the side of a piece of glass that bounces between etchings in a lens and eventually beaming that image to the user’s eyes. Waveguide lenses are currently used in AR headsets sold by Magic Leap and Microsoft, among many others.
Akonia has raised $11.6 million in funding according to Crunchbase.
While many of Apple’s competitors are already experimenting with AR headsets, the Cupertino-based firm has focused its efforts for phone-based AR technologies that track the geometry of spaces and can “project” digital objects onto surfaces.
Apple introduced ARKit with iOS 11 that put augmented reality into the hands of hundreds of millions of iPhone and iPad users, making iOS the world's biggest AR platform. ARKit 1.5 can turn posters, signs and artwork into interactive AR experiences.
“In addition to horizontal surfaces like tables and chairs, ARKit can now recognise and place virtual objects on vertical surfaces like walls and doors, and can more accurately map irregularly shaped surfaces like circular tables. The view of the real world through the camera now has 50 percent greater resolution and supports auto-focus for an even sharper perspective,” Apple said in a blog post.