Apple recently acquired augmented reality startup Metaio, reports TechCrunch. According to the company’s website, Metaio is a “pioneer in augmented reality and computer vision” that built the Metaio Creator, an augmented reality authoring tool. With the Creator, users could create augmented reality scenarios “within minutes.”
Metaio has stopped taking new customers and a shareholder document concerning the transferring of shares has confirmed that it was purchased by Apple. Apple also provided TechCrunch with its standard acquisition confirmation statement: “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”
Metaio’s augmented reality tools have been used by several companies to create interactive experiences. Ferarri, for example, created an augmented reality showroom with Metaio, and it’s been used in Berlin with historical footage to let travelers see what the scene they’re viewing would have looked like when the Berlin Wall was still in place.
It is not clear how Apple plans to use Metaio’s technology, but there have been persistent rumors indicating Apple is interested in virtual reality and augmented reality. Based on patents, Apple has explored a video headset, a motion-sensing virtual 3D interface for iOS devices, and 3D “hyper-reality” displays.
It’s possible that Apple could use Metaio’s AR creation tools to introduce unique features to Maps and other apps. A 2014 rumor suggested Apple was considering adding augmented reality features to Maps, and a more recent rumor points towards Apple’s work on a “Browse Around Me” feature for iOS 9 that includes an augmented reality view.
Recent rumors have suggested that Apple has a small team working on augmented reality projects at its Cupertino headquarters, but it remains unclear exactly when we’ll see Apple incorporating AR and VR features into its products.