Juniper Analyst: Apple Could Use Metaio’s IP For Augmented Reality Semiconductors

Javier Hasse , Benzinga Staff Writer

Last week, several mainstream media outlets discussed  alleged acquisition of Metaio, a German company focused on augmented reality.

Apple has not confirmed the purchase, but the story resurfaced on Thursday.

According to the Irish Times, a “document filed with a Munich court showed that Apple is now the company’s sole shareholder.”

Analyst Steffen Sorrell, of Juniper Research, told reporters that Apple could use Metaio’s intellectual property for its various electronic goods — in particular, augmented reality semiconductors.

Related Link: Google, GoPro Team Up On Virtual Realty; Apple Reportedly Makes Augmented Reality Acquisition

To date, neither company has commented on the rumor.

What’s Metaio?

Metaio has been developing augmented-reality applications for more than a decade now. The company started in 2003, and raised capital from sources outside Silicon Valley. Dublin-based Atlantic Bridge and Westcott LLC were the financers behind this project.

Currently, Metaio’s products merge real-world imagery with computer-generated elements, creating moving video presentations.

Major clients like famed retailer IKEA have used this technology to create virtual product showrooms, although it has many other uses.

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Apple Acquires Augmented Reality Company Metaio

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Apple has acquired Metaio, an augmented reality startup that launched way back in 2003 as an offshoot of a project at Volkswagen. The company’s site said it stopped taking new customers, and now a legal document shows Apple has bought it. The document confirms a transfer of shares of the startup to Apple on May 21st/22nd.

When asked by TechCrunch, Apple responded with its standard reply it gives as confirmation of acquistions, “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”

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The company began showing signs that something was clearly amiss when it canceled its user conference in San Francisco earlier this month and later took down the company’s Twitter accounts. It also posted on its website a couple of days ago that it was ending purchase of products and subscriptions. Email tech support ends June 30th.

Our senior writer Josh Constine went to Metaio’s San Francisco office yesterday to investigate, and a nervous employee refused to speak with him and shut the door in his face.

Notice on Metaio website that it's no longer accepting purchases.

A source told TechCrunch that clients who use Metaio are “flipping out” after seeing the shut down message on the website and not hearing a word from the company about what’s going on…until now.

Metaio hadn’t taken traditional Silicon Valley venture capital, but had raised some money from Atlantic Bridge and Westcott.

The company is well established. Many impressive projects have been produced using its tools including this one of with Ferrari that gives a potential buyer an AR tour of the car (as though the actual car isn’t cool enough):

And this one for travelers in Berlin to see what the scene they are looking at would have looked like when the Berlin Wall was up. The program uses historical footage that you can see by pointing your smartphone or tablet at a particular place.

Metaio boasts a big community of developers with a 1000 customers and 150,000 users worldwide in 30 countries. All of them are wondering what’s up right now.

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