Apple buys Flyby Media to bolster VR development

Apple buys Flyby Media to bolster VR development

Virtual reality (VR) is one of the emerging trends that appears to be quite appealing to Apple these days. After appointing an expert a few days back, the Cupertino giant has now reported to have bought Flyby Media, an augmented reality startup that allows mobile devices to “see” their surroundings.

Financial Times reports about the new acquisition and an Apple statement confirms in a precise way. “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” the statement reads, without disclosing terms of the deal.

New York-based Flyby Media was founded in 2010 with an aim to offer a spatial perception platform to mobile devices. The platform was integrated into Google’s Project Tango to enable VR experiences through next-generation smartphones and tablets.

Apple Flyby Media VR development

Flyby Media worked with Google’s Project Tango team before being acquired by Apple

Apart from its relationship with Google, Flyby Media developed a proprietary iPhone-focused product in the recent past that was used with Apple’s MapsConnect program to offer scalable floor plans. The startup co-founded by Cole Van Nice and Oriel Bergig also brought a spatial perception technology specially designed for drones and vehicles that can view objects at a distance of up to 10 miles.

Flyby Media isn’t just a startup that Apple has bought to work on VR. It had acquired Israeli motion-sensing company PrimeSense in 2013 and soon thereafter added Metaio and Faceshift to start working on some new projects. A patent application, which was surfaced online in February last year, shows that the iPhone maker is all set to take on Google, Facebook and Microsoft with its own VR headset. This would be an exclusive accessory for iPhone, something similar to Samsung’s Gear VR that has been designed for Galaxy series flagship devices.

Most recently earlier this month, an appointment of one of the top VR researchers — Doug Bowman — was revealed to suggest some active developments towards a secret project. This project is perhaps far bigger and larger than what other tech companies have developed in the past. Moreover, this could be a mix of VR with augmented reality (AR) as Bowman has plenty of knowledge about both the emerging trends.

Analysts believe that Apple is set to use the new hiring and acquisitions not just to develop a VR headset against Google Cardboard or Facebook’s Oculus Rift but to bring an all-new technology for the automobile space. This would set the pace for self-driving vehicles and would first feature on the rumoured Apple car.

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