It is believed Apple spent $30m to acquire Vrana, a Toronto firm making the 'Totem' AR headset which used front facing cameras to allow users to mix VR with the real world.

Apple buys AR headset maker in $30m ‘iGlasses’ deal

Apple‘s augmented reality glasses have taken a big step forward with the $30m purchase of a Canadian firm that makes AR headsets.

According to TechCrunch, Apple has acquired Vrana, which makes an AR headset called Totem, which received rave reviews from journalists – but was never shipped.

Apple is already believed to have a large team working on its AR headset, codenamed T228.

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It is believed Apple spent m to acquire Vrana, a Toronto firm making the 'Totem' AR headset which used front facing cameras to allow users to mix VR with the real world.

It is believed Apple spent $30m to acquire Vrana, a Toronto firm making the ‘Totem’ AR headset which used front facing cameras to allow users to mix VR with the real world.

Vrana, based in Montreal, has boasted its headset allows for ‘totally immersive’ experiences.

‘Totem’s ability to display the highest FOV at the highest resolution, faster than the human eyes can perceive, allows your application to completely immerse your customer in an unprecedented way,’ it claims on its website.

THE VRANA HEADSET

Vrana’s Totem headset was designed to run on Windows 10.

While it looked similar to a VR headset, it had several forward-facing pass-through cameras to replicate the outside world on its OLED displays inside the headset.

Vrana's headset had several forward-facing pass-through cameras to replicate the outside world on its OLED displays inside the headset

Vrana’s headset had several forward-facing pass-through cameras to replicate the outside world on its OLED displays inside the headset

According to the firm, this enabled the headset’s ‘hand tracking and inside-out positional tracking empowers your workforce to manipulate virtual objects with their hands wherever they please.

‘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.’

How it works: The Vrana headset was extremely advanced - although the firm never shipped it

How it works: The Vrana headset was extremely advanced – although the firm never shipped it

The headset also had a field of view wider than many of today’s headsets.

‘Totem’s ability to display the highest FOV at the highest resolution, faster than the human eyes can perceive, allows your application to completely immerse your customer in an unprecedented way. ‘

The headset was never released, although received rave reviews from people who tried it

The headset was never released, although received rave reviews from people who tried it

The deal was for around $30 million, two sources told TechCrunch, and a number of the startup’s employees have already joined Apple in California.

It has previously been claimed Apple’s AR headset could be on shelves by 2020.

Codenamed T228, they will run a version of Apple’s iOS called ‘reality OS’, according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman.

He wrote Apple ‘aims to have technology ready for an augmented-reality headset in 2019 and could ship a product as early as 2020.’

The Apple AR glasses patent details a head-mounted, touch-screen display that could work alongside an iPhone. It could work in tandem with an iPhone, representing points of interest (a landmark or an object such as a moving car) in a view of a real environment

The Apple AR glasses patent details a head-mounted, touch-screen display that could work alongside an iPhone. It could work in tandem with an iPhone, representing points of interest (a landmark or an object such as a moving car) in a view of a real environment

He says Apple’s device will have its own display and run on a new chip and operating system, ‘according to people familiar with the situation’.

It is believed the software will be a ‘fork’ of the iOS software on iPhones and iPads – similar to the version created for the Apple Watch.

It has been named ‘rOS’ for ‘reality operating system,’

A secret team team is working on several hardware and software projects under the umbrella code name of ‘T288’, it is claimed.

It is believed the firm is taking its time to make sure the technology is ready.

‘Anything you would see on the market any time soon would not be something any of us would be satisfied with,’ Tim Cook recently told The Independent when talking about the firm’s AR plans.

Jony Ive told The New Yorker’s TechFest conference last month the iPhone X and its screen had faced a similar issue, saying ‘there are certain ideas that we have and we are waiting for the technology to catch up with the idea.’

According to Bloomberg, engineers are prototyping applications from mapping to virtual meeting rooms and 360-degree video playback using HTC Vive headsets (pictured)

According to Bloomberg, engineers are prototyping applications from mapping to virtual meeting rooms and 360-degree video playback using HTC Vive headsets (pictured)

The firm is believed to be investigating touch panels, voice-activation via Siri and head gestures to control the glasses, and a recent Apple AR glasses patent details a head-mounted, touch-screen display that could work alongside an iPhone.

According to Bloomberg, engineers are prototyping applications from mapping to virtual meeting rooms and 360-degree video playback using HTC Vive headsets

A special development kit similar to Samsung’s Gear VR and Google’s Daydream using as iPhone as a screen is also being made, although it is believed it will only be used internally to develop apps for the new glasses.

APPLE’S AR GLASSES PATENT

There has been speculation that Apple is developing an AR headset that may work in tandem with the iPhone.

Catcher Technology, a Taiwanese company that manufactures metal casings for Apple products, may also make parts for Apple’s AR glasses.

In an interview with Nikkei Asian Review, Allen Horng, the chairman of Catcher Technology, did not confirm what project his company is working on, but there has been speculation that it’s working on Apple’s AR product given that the company already works with Apple on its product casings.

The Apple AR glasses patent details a head-mounted, touch-screen display that could work alongside an iPhone. It presents a way of representing points of interest (a landmark or an object) in a view of a real environment on an iPhone screen (pictured)

The Apple AR glasses patent details a head-mounted, touch-screen display that could work alongside an iPhone. It presents a way of representing points of interest (a landmark or an object) in a view of a real environment on an iPhone screen (pictured)

The Apple AR glasses patent details a head-mounted, touch-screen display that could work alongside an iPhone.

It also presents a way of representing points of interest (a landmark or an object such as a moving car) in a view of a real environment on an iPhone screen, with interaction functionality.

As such, the iPhone could potentially connect to the AR headset, allowing the wearer to see point of interest in real time.

The patent for the AR glasses (artist's impression) was the work of AR software development firm Metaio, which Apple acquired in May 2015 after it developed 'thermal touch' - a way to trigger actions in digital content via a person's heat signature

The patent for the AR glasses (artist’s impression) was the work of AR software development firm Metaio, which Apple acquired in May 2015 after it developed ‘thermal touch’ – a way to trigger actions in digital content via a person’s heat signature

Rumors that Apple is planning to bring introduce augmented reality smart glasses have been swirling since March.

In July, it was revealed that the tech giant filed a patent application showing how the AR glasses would work.

Now, it’s reported that Catcher Technology, a Taiwanese company that manufactures metal casings for Apple products, may also make parts for Apple’s AR glasses.

Allen Horng, the chairman of Catcher Technology, did not confirm what project his company is working on, but there has been speculation that it’s working on Apple’s AR product – given that the company already works with Apple on its product casings.

‘Based on what we have learned, [new AR products] need to look good and be light enough to wear … that makes the casings for such device very complicated to manufacture and there are still a lot of challenges to overcome currently,’ Allen Horng said in an earnings conference on Tuesday, November 7th.

The Apple AR glasses patent details a head-mounted, touch-screen display that could work alongside an iPhone.

It also presents a way of representing points of interest (a landmark or an object such as a moving car) in a view of a real environment on an iPhone screen, with interaction functionality.

As such, the iPhone could potentially connect to the AR headset, allowing the wearer to see point of interest in real time.

This is particularly useful for AR apps such as tour guides for exploring new cities.

Jeff Pu, an analyst Yuanta Investment Consulting, told Nikkei Asian Review that Apple’s AR glasses could go on sale at the end of 2019.

The patent was the work of AR software development firm Metaio, which Apple acquired in May 2015 after it developed ‘thermal touch’ – a way to trigger actions in digital content via a person’s heat signature.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has called augmented reality (AR) a ‘big idea’ and people will ‘have AR experiences every day, almost like eating three meals a day’.

APPLE’S AR IPHONE APPS

In September, Apple’s new iOS 11 update included a new augmented reality platform.

The ‘ARKit’ augmented reality system uses the cameras on an iPhone to detect a flat surface, or ‘plane’ to put the virtual objects on, such as a table or floor.

With a combination of machine learning and the camera data, it can constantly adjust the image so the object appears secured to the correct surface without the ‘jitters’ or other AR systems.

One of the apps for Apple's new augmented reality platform is a virtual version of the Very Hungry Caterpillar that puts the much loved character in a child's living room, allowing them to feed and play with it until it transforms into a butterfly

One of the apps for Apple’s new augmented reality platform is a virtual version of the Very Hungry Caterpillar that puts the much loved character in a child’s living room, allowing them to feed and play with it until it transforms into a butterfly

ARKit also makes use of the camera sensor to estimate the total amount of light available in a scene and applies the correct amount of lighting to virtual objects.

One of the apps for Apple’s new augmented reality platform is a virtual version of the Very Hungry Caterpillar that puts the much loved character in a child’s living room, allowing them to feed and play with it until it transforms into a butterfly.

The Walking Dead’ app allows users to fight zombies wherever they are: streets, parks, living rooms and backyards.

But players won’t face the apocalypse alone; Rick, Daryl, Michonne and more iconic characters from the hit TV show will fight by their sides.

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