Twitter has been strangely silent on the virtual and augmented reality front thus far, but a key acquisition this week could signal the end of that silence.
The social media giant has purchased a London-based group rather brilliantly known as Magic Pony Technology. It specialises in machine learning, which involves developing systems that allow computers to learn from processes without having to be programmed to do so. In the case of Magic Pony, it’s employed to help enhance images. According to TechCrunch, it could also be used to help give the company a push into the VR and AR space.
Before being acquired for an officially undisclosed sum – that the site is reporting to be $150 million – Magic Pony was said to be working on “a pretty substantial VR and AR strategy”. That is according to Suranga Chandratillake, a partner at Balderton, which previously invested in the company. The strategy apparently involved improving VR and AR graphics as an evolution of the work it was already doing to improve standard 2D images.
But Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey makes no mention of that work in his blog announcing the acquisition, and it’s entirely possible that the company has no interest in that strand of its work. He did note that the acquisition would “enhance” the company’s strength in “live and video and opens up a whole lot of exciting creative possibilities for Twitter.” Perhaps that last part could indeed be a sign of things to come from the company?
In truth Twitter doesn’t immediately seem like a natural fit for VR, though no doubt we’ll one day see 360 degree images and videos in feeds that we’ll be able to quickly view by pulling on a headset. AR, however, seems a far better fit for the site, allowing us to view messages as we go about our everyday lives. We’d also expect the site to have some answer to both VR and AR in the near future given that close rivals like Facebook are already so heavily invested in the tech.