Apple Inc has acquired another startup – Spaces, a Virtual Reality firm, Protocol reported on Monday. Apple did not give out any details about the deal, including the valuation, which is still unknown. But then, that is usual with all of Apple’s acquisitions and hence nothing new.
And as usual as those discreet acquisitions are, a usual statement has come in from an Apple spokesperson, that told Protocol via an email that, “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” he said.
Spaces, according to its website is “a bridge between a VR world and Zoom, Skype, Hangouts, and more.” Before Coronavirus, Spaces offered VR services found at theme parks, theater, and more. Spaces, which spun out of DreamWorks, also created the VR for ‘Terminator Salvation: Fight for the Future,’ a VR based 4 person game. However, the point that differentiated Spaces from its competitors is (or should I saw was) its facial tracking software, which allowed it to provide an immersive experience that the competition could not.
Once the pandemic took off, the company had to shut down its offices, lay off employees, and take loans just to survive. However, it decided to build on its facial tracking software and created a new app that enabled users to join online meetings and other video calls using animated avatars. Now, since we all know how much companies like Apple and Google ‘love’ facial tracking, it’s not surprising that Apple snatched up the first opportunity to acquire the company.
Spaces had dropped a hint last week itself when it wrote on its website “Spaces is heading in a new direction,” thanking users and partners who had been a part of the company’s journey.
Although Apple hasn’t confirmed whether or not it will use spaces to develop VR, it’s interest in virtual and augmented reality suggests that it might use spaces to develop VR in iOS 14 or other upcoming devices. Moreover, according to rumors Apple is working on AR and VR headsets for 2021 and 2022, so spaces might also come in hand for this.
By the way, off the topic, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IITB), the Indian equivalent of MIT, recently did a convocation ceremony that had “virtual avatars” of students receiving degrees from virtual avatars of the dean and other management. Sounds familiar to Apple’s acquisition? It sounded to us, and hence the mention.