Snap buys UK smart glasses supplier for $500m

Snap buys UK smart glasses supplier for $500m

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

Snap has bought the UK-based supplier of a key part of its augmented reality smart glasses display.

The sale was confirmed by WaveOptics chairman Martin Harriman. “Proud to have chaired this amazing company and its stellar team for the last five years,” he said.

WaveOptics in Oxford supplies the waveguide for Snap’s AR smart glasses. The latest version, Spectacles, were launched yesterday. These weigh 134g and  use dual 3D waveguide displays with a 26.3 degree field of view. Snap’s Spatial Engine, based on the Qualcomm Snapdragon XR1, provides a 15 millisecond latency from two RGB cameras with 4 built-in microphones, 2 stereo speakers and a touchpad. The display dynamically adjusts up to 2000 Nits of brightness.

WaveOptics, co-founded by David Grey, an optics engineer from Marconi Research and BAE Systems, has raised a total of $60m in funding over six rounds from Octopus Ventures, Robert Bosch Venture Capital, IDM Goertek and ipgroup.

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Waveguides are a key component for smart glasses, with suppliers such as Applied Materials and Dispelix in the LaSAR Alliance and Schott in Germany.

Last year, Google bought North, which began as a human-interface hardware startup Thalmic Labs in 2012, which makes holographic smart glasses called Focal. These display information superimposed over the real world, can read text messages, and connect to Alexa.

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