Snap Takes Augmented Reality Seriously with $500 Million WaveOptics Acquisition and Brings Real AR to its Spectacles Line

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By Eric Abbruzzese | 2Q 2021 | IN-6182


First Real Steps into AR Glasses


Snap, the company behind Snapchat and Spectacles smart glasses frames, announced two moves into the augmented reality (AR) market—the acquisition of display provider WaveOptics, and a developer-targeted smart glasses devices leveraging WaveOptics displays. Snap has been active in the AR market for years in the form of AR filters for Snapchat, but this is the first step into display-enabled glasses. Current and previous Spectacles glasses products do not include displays and so have no visual capabilities, used instead for content capture only.

WaveOptics is UK-based a waveguide manufacturer, a common technology for passthrough displays. The company had raised US$65 million before the acquisition. The developer Spectacles will use WaveOptics waveguides for a 26-degree field of view display system, 2000 nits of brightness, 15 millisecond motion to photon latency, 6-degrees of freedom tracking, a Qualcomm Snapdragon XR1 chipset, and 30 minutes of charge in a 134-gram package. Integration with Snap’s Lens Studio desktop content creation environment is included. The glasses w…

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