Way back in 2014 virtual reality (VR) startup Vrvana launched a Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign for a headset called Totem. Cancelled in the final week, Vrvana didn’t disappear, instead it has been quietly working away on a mixed reality (MR) device of the same name. The company has now been thrust into the spotlight again after it appears that Apple has now purchased it.
In a report by TechCrunch, the site states that Apple has acquired Vrvana in a $30 million USD deal, although neither company has confirmed the sale, with the site simple citing sources close to the deal. Some of Vrvana’s employee’s have already joined Apple, and it has already stopped updating it social accounts as of August.
What makes the purchase interesting is that Apple has stayed decidedly secret when it comes to augmented reality (AR) or VR hardware development. The ARKit development software has been the only public offering the company has released, back in June, which has seen widespread adoption by many studios looking to experiment in the field. Recently a Bloomberg report said that Apple was planning on shipping an augmented reality headset in 2020.
As for Vrvana, the Totem headset that it has been working on looks similar to most headsets today, yet it mixes VR with AR thanks to several pass-though cameras that display the real world on its OLED displays. This differs from devices like Microsoft HoloLens and Meta 2 in that they use transparent lenses and image projection to display content on the world around the users. The disadvantage of that system is that images look ghost like and colours are washed out, whereas with Vrvana’s system content can look rich and colourful. It does have a downside though, and that’s latency, with prototypes running at around 3 milliseconds.
As Apple hasn’t confirmed the purchase it obviously hasn’t exactly said what parts of Vrvana its interested in. But it’s fair to say Vrvana’s long running Totem headset and 6DoF tracking technology has played a part in it.
As and when Apple decides to reveal more about its VR and AR plans, VRFocus will bring you the latest news and reports.