Apple has acquired the virtual reality startup Spaces, which was spun out of DreamWorks Animation in 2016, for an undisclosed sum.
As reported by Protocol (opens in new tab) who broke the story, the startup first became known for creating location-based virtual reality experiences in cities all over the world including Washington DC, Los Angeles, Tokyo and Hangzhou, China.
However, once the pandemic began, Spaces shifted its focus to making a VR add-on that allows animated avatars to be used in Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts and other video conferencing software. The company's add-on is also compatible with a wide range of VR headsets including devices from Oculus and HTC Vive as well as Windows Mixed Reality products from a number of hardware makers.
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A week before news of the acquisition broke, Spaces updated its website (opens in new tab) with a message to its users and partners, which reads:
“Thank you to our users and partners who participated in our awesome VR video conferencing product and the many people who enjoyed our VR location-based entertainment attractions found at theme parks, theaters, and more.”
VR meets video conferencing
At this time, it is still unclear as to how Apple will leverage Spaces' technology but the iPhone maker has been working on virtual reality as well as augmented reality products for years and this is just the latest in its series of acquisitions in the space. Over the years, Apple has purchased a number of other VR companies including NextVR, Akonia Holographics and Vrvana.
After Protocol published its story on Apple's latest acquisition, a company spokesperson reached out with the following statement: "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans".
Will Spaces be used to help Apple gain an edge over other video conferencing software or will the company return to its VR roots and work on the company's still unannounced products?
We won't know for sure until Apple finally decides to reveal its plans which will likely occur in a keynote presentation introducing one of its rumored VR or AR products.
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Via The Independent (opens in new tab)