Being one of (if not) the biggest technology companies in the world, Apple has a fair amount of cash when it comes to spending on research and development. However, that doesn’t mean that occasionally it won’t purchase the odd smaller company or two which are specialised in areas the iPhone maker has interests in. Most recently Apple acquired Akonia Holographics, an augmented reality (AR) startup based in Colorado.
Confirmed by Reuters, Apple still kept to its usual secretive self, merely saying: “Apple buys smaller companies from time to time, and we generally don’t discuss our purpose or plans,” in a statement.
It’s no surprise that Apple has purchased a company like Akonia Holographics as the company has long professed an interest in AR over rival virtual reality (VR) technology. Having launched ARKit last year for iPhones and iPads with the introduction of iOS 11, Apple has continued to support the software by unveiling ARKit 2 at WWDC 18 in June.
CEO Tim Cook is also well known for having remarked: “There’s virtual reality and there’s augmented reality – both of these are incredibly interesting. But my own view is that augmented reality is the larger of the two, probably by far.”
Founded in 2012, Akonia Holographics claims to have 200 patents pertaining to holographic systems and materials which can be leveraged to improve the size, cost & performance of future head-worn AR hardware. Having raised $11.6 million USD in seed funding that same year the company was known to be looking for additional investment prior to Apples acquisition.
Apple have long been rumoured to be working on an AR headset of some kind and Akonia Holographics tech could possibly make that happen. Akonia has claimed that its HoloMirror technology “will enable headsets that are thin, transparent & light-weight, while achieving high FOV with low manufacturing cost.” FOV is one of the main gripes with headsets like HoloLens and Magic Leap One, with them having 30-degree and 40-degree horizontal FOV respectively.
It may be years before Apple decide to showcase anything concrete, in the meantime keep reading VRFocus.