Snap is buying WaveOptics for more than $500 million, The Verge reports.
WaveOptics is a UK-based company founded in 2014. It supplies transparent optical waveguides and accompanying projectors.
Snap, the company behind Snapchat, revealed its first AR glasses yesterday, with WaveOptics displays onboard. While the field of view is much narrower than headsets like HoloLens & Magic Leap, the display is much brighter so can be practically used outdoors.
The Verge report claims the roughly 125 person team at WaveOptics will now report to Snap’s hardware division, but will continue to supply other companies while working to build custom optics for Spectacles.
Back in 2018 Apple acquired Akonia Holographics, a startup working on holographic waveguides. Facebook has spoken of developing custom waveguides, and last year acquired a key microLED display supplier. Microsoft works closely with MicroVision for its HoloLens range. All three have spoken of plans to ship consumer AR in coming years.
As the specs of Spectacles show, AR is still a very early technology. There are still huge technical hurdles to overcome to appeal to a broad consumer market – hurdles that could take the better part of this decade overcome. Companies like Snap are preparing now to shape this new landscape – or at least to not be left behind.