Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) confirmed on Thursday that it has acquired virtual-reality (VR) specialist NextVR. The technology start-up created a platform that broadcasts live and recorded events -- including concerts and sports -- to VR headsets. The move comes just weeks after Apple acquired AI start-up Voysis.
The iPhone maker didn't disclose the terms of the deal, but issued a boilerplate statement confirming the acquisition, saying, "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans." At the same time, NextVR's website announced "NextVR is heading in a new direction." The deal is reportedly valued at about $100 million.
NextVR boasts a laundry list of high-profile partnerships with professional sports and entertainment organizations, including Live Nation (NYSE:LYV), World Wrestling Entertainment (NYSE:WWE), Fox (NASDAQ:FOX) (NASDAQ:FOXA) Sports, the National Basketball Association (NBA), and the National Hockey League (NHL), among others.
In addition to its platform, NextVR boasts a treasure trove of patents -- more than 40 in all -- for a process that upscales high-quality video streams for upload to VR headsets.
Apple has made no secret of its aspirations in augmented reality (AR) and VR, and there have been rumors of an under-the-radar research segment with hundreds of its employees working on ways to incorporate the technology into its future product lines.
The company's ambitions have been on full display in recent months. During its second-quarter conference call, Apple announced that it launched a new iPad Pro that featured a "a first-in-class LiDAR [Light Detection and Ranging] scanner with some really exciting augmented reality applications." This is similar to the the technology used in self-driving cars, sending out pulsed beams of laser light to measure the distance to nearby objects.