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Apple (AAPL) Expands in AR, Acquires Headset Maker Vrvana

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Apple Inc AAPL CEO Tim Cook has been vocal about augmented reality (AR) for quite some time now. He views it as the next big computing platform.

To boost its efforts, Apple has purchased Canada-based AR headset maker, Vrvana for $30 million, per a TechCrunch Report.

Vrvana Totem

Vrvana is best known for its Totem headset, which combines AR and virtual reality (VR) technologies. The headset also has “inside out” tracking. The company on its website describes Totem as “immersion at its finest”. While describing Totem, the company adds that “Totem’s ability to produce truly opaque blacks and seamlessly blend the real world with the virtual enables the creation of unique mixed reality experiences so credible that your customers will actually believe that they are in the action.”

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Per Vrvana, Totem boasts a 1440p low persistence OLED screen with a field view of 120 degrees for both AR/VR. The camera comes with RGB 6 MP per eye (ultra low latency pass through).

Apple’s AR Efforts

To ramp up its efforts, Apple has also acquired several smaller firms with expertise in AR hardware, 3D gaming and virtual reality software. These include SensoMotoric, Flyby Media, Emotient, TupleJump, Turi, Metaio and PrimeSense.

Moreover, Apple unveiled the ARKit at WWDC this year that will help third-party developers to work on creating AR experiences for the iOS platform. Cook had stated back then that by putting ARKit on iPhones, Apple has “overnight become the largest AR platform.”

Though Apple was rumored to retail AR glasses by this year end, Cook in an interview with The Independent trashed such rumors. He told Independent that Apple is not bothered about being the first in the AR glasses market but is concentrating on giving consumers the best quality stuff.

“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.”

He believes that the rise of AR will be “dramatic” just like the evolution of mobile apps. He said that earlier, people were wary that apps won’t find mainstream adoption but today there is a robust app economy. Users are now more than ever dependent on apps for their needs like health monitoring, shopping and for a ride back home.

AR/VR and the Tech Giants

Given the massive growth potential, there is tremendous interest in AR/VR. Right from Facebook FB to Alphabet GOOGL to Microsoft MSFT, all are pumping in resources to develop these technologies.

Facebook has directed about $3 billion to develop VR technology while Alphabet’s Google is giving tough competition to Apple with its all new ARCore developer Kit. Similar to ARKit, ARCore will let developers create AR experiences for Android Platform. Android is indeed one of the most popular mobile operating platforms.

On the other hand, Microsoft has (and cautiously) directed its efforts toward something called “mixed reality.” Microsoft created the term “mixed reality,” which stands for a combination of AR and VR.  A few days back, the company announced that the upgraded version of the Windows 10 operating system (OS) will support both AR and VR technologies. HoloLens is Microsoft’s another noted “mixed reality” product.

It remains to be seen how this market eventually pans out in the coming days. Though at present AR/VR application may be limited to gaming, it has the potential to evolve into the next computing platform. Only time will tell how.

Zacks Rank and Stock Price Movement

At present, Apple carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

 

In the past year, shares of Apple have registered growth of 55.7% compared with the industry’s gain of 54.5%.

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