Published: Wed, June 28, 2017
Science | By Nancy Frank

Apple acquires German eye-tracking company

Apple acquires German eye-tracking company

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) all but directly confirms the acquisition of computer vision company SensoMotoric Instruments, a purchase first reported by MacRumors. The report is based on legal activity discovered through a shell company and Apple attorney Gene Levoff. This was timed with an update to SensoMotoric's website which removed dozens of pages of product information, job application resources, key personnel bios, and contact information. The company, founded in 1991 and based in Teltow near Berlin, develops eye-tracking tech to be used in virtual and augmented reality headsets and glasses. It became active in the virtual reality segment in 2016 when it announced an eye-tracking development kit for the HTC Vive VR headset. At WWDC earlier this month, Apple unveiled its new ARKit solution, aimed providing developers with new tools for crafting AR experiences as well as improving motion tracking to create virtual objects that are more "rooted" in real physical space. The firm has been into eye tracking glasses and other related systems.

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We don't know any details on how much Apple paid for the company or whether it will operate independently, but we're keeping an eye out. Apple's quest for secrecy runs even deeper than that-as with other smaller acquisitions it has made in the past, Apple tried to hide this one through shell companies, which MacRumors traced back to the outfit. Apple CEO Tim Cook has also been effusive in his praise for the technology in public speeches. The company also added VR development support to the new iMac Pro. It might be interested in developing and licensing technologies to third parties, or this could be part of a larger AR play that could tie into macOS or iOS, just as Microsoft is working to implement AR technology into Windows 10.

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