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Snap acquires AR display supplier behind its new Spectacles for $500 million

WaveOptics has been acquired for half a billion dollars.

A pair of black, square-edged augmented reality glasses against a black gradient background

Snapchat parent company Snap unveiled a new pair of augmented reality glasses on Thursday. Now, it owns the display maker that powers them.

Image: Snap

Snap has acquired WaveOptics, a UK-based augmented reality display maker that helps power the new version of its Spectacles glasses, in a deal valued at more than $500 million, The Verge reported Friday. The deal will help Snap lock in a key component supplier in the AR market as competition from Apple, Facebook, and others heats up.

WaveOptics was founded in 2014 and now has a 125-person team that will report to Snap hardware chief Steen Strand. The company intends to continue selling its technology, which includes waveguide displays for powering AR devices, to other companies while it works with Snap on developing next-generation AR tech.

WaveOptics' hardware can be found in the new version of Snap's Spectables, a true AR device unveiled on Thursday of this week that won't be sold to the public quite yet but instead will be given out to influencers and other online creators while Snap iterates on the design and software. The device is still very much a work in progress, with a field of view about half that of the latest Microsoft HoloLens that translates to roughly a postage stamp-sized image that floats in front of the wearer's eyes.

The new Spectacles come equipped with two RGB cameras, four microphones, and touchpads for tactile control, while the WaveOptics-supplied waveguide displays are said to produce up to 2,000 nits of brightness and just 15ms of latency. The device has a battery life of about 30 minutes, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel said.

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