Snap acquires AR startup WaveOptics, which provides tech for Spectacles, for over $500M

Snap yesterday announced the latest iteration of its Spectacles augmented world glass, and today the company exposed a bit more news: it is also acquiring the startup that supplied the technology that helps power them. The Snapchat parent is snarling up WaveOptics, an AR startup that builds the waveguides and projectors used in AR glasses. These overlay virtual personas on top of the views of the real world someone wearing the glass can see, and Snap worked with WaveOptics to build its recent explanation of Spectacles.

The deal was first reported by The Verge, and a spokesperson for Snap instantly fortified more detailed information to TechCrunch. Snap is paying more than $ 500 million for the startup, in a cash-and-stock deal. The first half of that will be coming in the form of broth when the transaction officially closes, and the remainder will be payable in cash or furnish in two years.

This is a big leap for WaveOptics, which had raised around $65 million in funding from investors that included Bosch, Octopus Ventures and a host of individuals, including Stan Boland( veteran industrialist in the U.K ., most recently at FiveAI) and Ambarish Mitra( the co-founder of early AR startup Blippar ). PitchBook estimates that its most recent valuation was only around $105 million.

WaveOptics was founded in Oxford, and it’s not clear where the team will be based after the distribute is closed — we have asked.

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We have been covering the company because it earliest days, where reference is exposed some very interesting, early, and ahead-of-its-time technology: waveguides based on hologram physics and photonic crystals. The important and key thing is that its tech drastically tightens size and load of the hardware needed to process and spectacle images, intending a much wider and more flexible range of model influences for AR hardware based on WaveOptics tech.

It’s not clear whether WaveOptics will continue to work with other parties post-deal, but it seems that one self-evident advantage for Snap would be realise the startup’s technology exclusive to itself.

Snap has been on something of an acquisition progress in recent times — it’s made at least three other acquisitions of startups since January, including Fit Analytics for an AR-fuelled move into e-commerce, as well as Pixel8Earth and StreetCred for its mapping tools.

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This deal, nonetheless, labels Snap’s biggest acquisition to date in terms of valuation. That is not only a mark of the premium price that foundational neural networks tech continues to command — in addition to the team of scientists that built WaveOptics, it also has 12 registered and in-progress patents — but likewise Snap’s monetary and, frankly, existential commitment to having a seat at the counter when it comes not just to social apps that use AR, but hardware, and being at the centre of not just expend the tech, but positioning the gait and schedule for how and where that are able to play out.

That’s been a tenacious and not always reinforcing residence for it to be, but the company — which has long described itself as a “camera company” — has retained hardware in the combination as a vital component for its future strategy.

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