Apple has acquired SensoMotoric Instruments, a German provider of eye tracking glasses and systems, reported MacRumors, citing legal documents and other evidence. Apple's vice president of corporate law Gene Levoff, representing Vineyard Capital Corporation, provided power of attorney to the German law firm Hiking Kuhn Luer Wojtek in order to represent Vineyard Capital Corporation for all business that is related to the acquisition. SMI has since updated its website and removed the jobs portal, news blog, contact information and even the mailing signup form.
SensoMotoric already has a working model for glasses that can be used for eye-tracking for athletes, as well as having worked with the Oculus Rift team on eye-tracking for their VR headset.
Apple had its AR and VR ambitions on display at its WWDC conference earlier this month, with demos of both technologies during the opening keynote. According to the report, the company had actually been hiring until last week.
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For VR and AR applications, SMI's eye-tracking system works with engines including Unity, Unreal and WorldViz's Vizard.
One of the primary VR and AR-based use cases for the technology is called foveated rendering which tracks the locations of the user's gaze and renders the focal area at full resolution while blurring out the rest, lessening the processing load significantly. The terms of the deal, and the status of the company's existing employees, is unknown at this time.
The company has also developed a product similar to one Apple is rumoured to launch alongside the iPhone 8. It could also help Apple in developing software that can be integrated in coming iPhones or can make it to life as standalone devices. Apple CEO Tim Cook has also been effusive in his praise for the technology in public speeches.