by James Au
Apple just confirmed acquisition of German company Metaio, which as the Journal reports, has developed augmented reality technology that enables “people wearing Google Glass-like eyewear to make any real world surface into a virtual touch screen.” This purchase assures Apple’s entrance into the virtual/augmented reality industry, a space we’ve been following closely over the last few years. Now just about all the world’s largest high-tech/Internet companies are active in virtual reality:
Facebook, of course, got the virtual ball rolling with its acquisition of Oculus VR last year.
Google invested half a billion dollars into the Magic Leap augmented reality startup, launched the Google Cardboard VR system, and just this week, announced Google Jump, a VR filmmaking setup integrated with YouTube.
Microsoft recently announced and showcased its HoloLens AR system.
Samsung has partnered with Oculus for its Gear VR set-up. (We got a hands-on demo of Gear at SXSW 2015, and were pretty impressed.)
Sony is expected to roll out its Morpheus system for Playstation next year.
Valve has partnered with Chinese smart device giant HTC to develop its Vive VR system.
Yahoo! quietly purchased Cloud Party, a web-based virtual world compatible with Oculus.
And that’s just an abbreviated list of announcements from this year and last -- many more are sure to come. These companies still face many hurdles launching VR to the consumer market, many of which we wrote about last year: “Virtual Reality Can Only Go Mass Market With a Smart Communications Strategy.” VR failed to go mass market durings it first vogue in the 90s, and then failed again ten years later after the buzz around Second Life and other virtual worlds fizzled out. So we’re watching closely to see how well this new wave of VR tech fares over the next few years.