US-based Snap to acquire British AR firm WaveOptics for $500mn

By Shilpa Annie Joseph, Official Reporter
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US-based camera and social media company Snap will acquire the British augmented reality (AR) technology company, WaveOptics for over $500 million.

The acquisition will provide Snap many of the components to develop glasses that enable people to see computer-generated images overlaid on top of the real world. And, the transaction is Snap’s biggest ever, underscoring the company’s long-term bet that augmented reality glasses will become popular in the future.

The company has confirmed that the deal will be settled in cash and stock, with about half paid upfront in stock. The rest of the amount will be paid in cash or stock in two years. The US company is intended to using WaveOptics displays in the new Spectacles

WaveOptics mainly manufactures waveguides, a display technology that enables virtual objects to be superimposed on the real world through a transparent surface such as glass, as well as light projectors. 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, from Stan Boland (veteran entrepreneur in the UK, most recently at FiveAI) and Ambarish Mitra (the co-founder of early AR startup Blippar).

WaveOptics will continue to supply waveguides to other companies and collaborate with Snap on custom optical systems, according to a Snap spokesperson.

Snap, along with other tech behemoths like Facebook and Apple, is rushing to develop augmented reality systems as the next technological frontier after the smartphone.

Last day, Snap has unveiled a new version of its Spectacles glasses, the first to incorporate AR with two built-in cameras, two speakers, and four microphones. The new Spectacles will not be open to the general public, instead, they will be available to AR developers who apply to use them.

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