Apple buys augmented reality company Vrvana
Apple acquired augmented reality headset startup Vrvana for $30 million. Founded in 2005, Vrvana is a Canadian startup that makes the Totem headset. The totem headset has not yet been released on the market but has had great reviews. The headset costs $50 to pre-order, and the final price is estimated to be $450. The Totem Vrvana Virtual Reality headset allows users to see the real world around them by switching back and forth between interior screens and exterior cameras. Original investors in the startup included Real Ventures, the Canadian Technology Accelerator, and Richard Adler, who is also active in other Virtual Reality startups.
Here are some of the features of the Vrvana Virtuality Reality Headset:
The cameras have 130 degrees of horizontal FOV M12 lenses for maximum field of view, which expands to 90 degrees.
The screen features 1080p with an RGB color scheme. The lenses for each eye can individually focus for maximum clarity and customization. The lenses are extra large to make up for human sight deficiencies.
The Vrvana Totem VR Headset features an input for HDMI, output for USB, and works with a variety of platforms, including Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4, and the PC. It can support Unreal Engine and Havoc Vision Engine. It also has the ability to plug and play on almost any device.
The headset has two standard (3.5mm) headphone jacks and works with surround sound. It gives an immersive cinematic experience.
The Controls can be emulated, including PC mouse, Xbox, and PS3 functions. The accelerometer provides physical space detection.
Size and Weight
The dimensions are 6.5″ x 4.5″ by 5.5″. It weighs an estimated 390g.
A key disadvantage in Virtual and Augmented Reality systems, aside from bulky aesthetics, is that there is often a noticeable lag between the cameras capturing the outside world and how quickly it displays in the headset.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has shown interest in Augmented Reality. However, he has also been critical of the technology, stating that it is not yet up to Apple’s high standards.
Here is Tim Cook’s statement regarding Virtual Reality technology:
Today I can tell you the technology itself doesn’t exist to do that in a quality way. The display technology required, as well as putting enough stuff around your face – there’s huge challenges with that. The field of view, the quality of the display itself, it’s not there yet… We don’t give a rat’s about being first, we want to be the best, and give people a great experience.
Apple has made acquisitions that underscore its interest in Virtual Reality technology. In June, Apple acquired SMI, an eye-tracking firm that was working on solutions for Virtual and Augmented Reality headsets. Apple has also acquired Flyby Media, Metaio, Emotient, and Faceshift.
Vrvana’s website is up and running, although their social media has gone inactive since August. Apple has not yet released a public statement on the acquisition.
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