Yesterday, Snap announced the latest version of its augmented reality glasses from Spectacles, and today the company announced more news: It is also acquiring the startup that provides the technology that powers them.
Snapchat’s parent company grabs WaveOptics, an augmented reality startup that makes the waveguides and projectors used in the augmented reality glasses. These overlay virtual images with the real-life views a person wearing glasses can see, and Snap worked with WaveOptics to create the latest version of the glasses.
The deal was first reported by The Verge, and a Snap spokesperson directly confirmed the details to TechCrunch. Snap is paying more than $ 500 million for the startup in a cash and stock deal. The first half of this amount will be paid in stock at the official close of the deal, the rest will be payable in cash or in stock in two years.
This is a big leap for WaveOptics, which has raised around $ 65 million from investors like Bosch, Octopus Ventures and a host of individuals from Stan Boland (veteran entrepreneur in the UK, most recently at FiveAI) and Ambarish Mitra (the co-founder of the early AR Startups Blippar). PitchBook estimates the most recent valuation was only around $ 105 million. WaveOptics was founded in Oxford and, to the best of our knowledge, will continue to be based in the UK.
We have been reporting on the company since its earliest days when it showed off some very interesting, early and contemporary technologies: waveguides based on hologram physics and photonic crystals. What is most important and important is that the technology drastically compresses the size and utilization of the hardware needed to process and display images. This means a much wider and more flexible range of form factors for AR hardware based on WaveOptics technology.
It’s not clear if WaveOptics will continue to work with other parties after the deal, but it seems that an obvious advantage for Snap is making the startup’s technology exclusive to itself.
Snap has been on an acquisition march lately – at least three other startups have been bought since January, including Fit Analytics for an AR-supported entry into e-commerce and Pixel8Earth and StreetCred for its mapping tools.
However, this deal marks Snap’s biggest rating to date in terms of rating. Not only is this a token of the premium price the technology continues to charge for basic artificial intelligence – in addition to the team of scientists who developed WaveOptics, it also has 12 pending and pending patents – but Snap’s financial and pending costs as well frankly, existential obligation to have a seat at the table when it comes to not just social apps that use AR but hardware as well, and to be at the center of not just using the technology but setting the pace and agenda for it how and where to do this.
It was a persistent and not always worthwhile place, but the company that has long referred to itself as the “camera company” has kept hardware in the mix as an integral part of its future strategy.