Snapchat parent company Snap has acquired augmented reality (AR) display provider WaveOptics, which powers its new Spectacles glasses, in a deal of more than $500 million.
- Tech Collaboration: Reports said that UK-based WaveOptics will continue to supply other firms with its display technology called “waveguides” and work with Snap on custom optical systems. Snap recently unveiled the next generation of Spectacles glasses that bring augmented reality to life.
- Super Glasses: “Spectacles are fully integrated with Lens Studio. This powerful desktop application designed for augmented reality creators and developers is used to build and distribute Lenses across Snap’s AR platform,” the company said in a statement. The “waveguides” technology allows for the overlaying of virtual objects onto the real world through a transparent surface like glass, and accompanying light projectors.
- Mega Experimentation: News of Snap’s acquisition of WaveOptics comes days after it unveiled the next-generation Spectacles at the Snap Partner Summit 2021. They’re Snap’s first smart glasses that can display AR virtual objects overlaid in the wearer’s field of vision. For now, the new Spectacles are not for sale. CEO Evan Spiegel said the company has made them available to a handful of AR creators and developers to experiment with.
- Key Features: Snap’s new 4.7-ounce Spectacles feature dual 3D waveguide displays developed by WaveOptics. The glasses include a 26.3-degree diagonal field of view overlay for Snapchat AR Lenses, which appear in front of the wearer’s eyes. The new Spectacles provide a “multi-sensorial experience that redefines how we interact with and see the world,” Spiegel said in introducing them. The glasses also feature two RGB cameras, four built-in microphones, two stereo speakers, built-in touchpad controls, and a battery life of approximately 30 minutes per charge.
- An Emerging Firm: The company was founded in 2014 and has more than 100 employees in the UK, US, China and Taiwan. Its headquarters are in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, England. WaveOptics had raised about $65 million in funding to date, according to PitchBook Data. Investors in the company include Octopus Ventures, IP Group, Robert Bosch Venture Capital, China’s Gobi Ventures, Goertek and HostPlus.