Apple has reportedly acquired Metaio, an augmented reality (AR) startup with a loyal following but lackluster growth. Legal documents published by TechCrunch confirm that Apple has purchased the privately-held company, but Apple has declined to discuss details.
Metaio specializes in creating tools that are used to deliver compelling AR content, including detailed views of exotic cars, historical perspectives on the Berlin Wall and other praised productions.
TechCrunch reports that the company had apparently been experiencing difficulties that forced it to cancel a user conference and freeze further customer engagements. Launched in 2003 as an offshoot of a project at Volkswagen, Metaio was privately held with funding coming from Atlantic Bridge and Westcott.
Metaio’s community includes some 1000 customers and 150,000 users worldwide in 30 countries.
The acquisition could kickstart development of Apple’s patented a VR headset. Observers say Apple may also be working on an augmented reality feature for its Maps app that would allow users to point their phones into a street and see details on nearby businesses and restaurants.
Apple’s acquisition was announced just days after Oculus acquired a UK-based software company that specializes in mapping real spaces into virtual environments.