Meta Acquires Yet Another VR Optics Startup – Virtual Reality Times

In spite of recent Federal Trade Commission (FTC) injunctions and criticisms from some quarters of the industry, Meta is forging full steam ahead with the acquisition of technology firms whose solutions might help in the company’s own XR projects. The latest acquisition is a startup that specializes in VR optics and whose technology could help in Meta’s VR lenses.

The startup is known as Gary Sharp Innovations and according to the Protocol tech reporter Janko Roettgers, Meta apparently acquired the startup in June 2022 citing documents filed with the USPTO..

In a response to a Roettgers’ inquiry, Meta confirmed that the acquisition actually took place stating that Gary Sharp Innovations was helping the tech giant “develop better viewing optics” for its augmented reality and virtual reality products. The report does not disclose details on the cost of the acquisition. Gary Sharp Innovations (GSI) is a small research and development (R&D) startup based in Colorado that was founded in 2017.

Meta’s acquisition of GSI gives it access to the company’s numerous patents and patent applications. Meta will also gain control of some document liability.

A LinkedIn post by a former GSI employee, Robert Fort, shows that he is now working as a virtual reality optics specialist at Meta. The employee’s profile shows that he started his new job in June last year, strongly suggesting that the acquisition was concluded by June last year.

One of GSI’s patents, which is now owned by Meta, is for a pancake lens that minimizes scattered light via special optical layers. Meta’s latest headset, the Quest Pro, is built with Meta-branded pancake lenses that have been under development for four years. Meta will likely use the same internally developed lenses in its future virtual reality headsets like the Meta Quest 3 which will supposedly launch later this year.

Quest Pro
Quest Pro

The pancake lenses will likely replace the Fresnel lenses in all VR hardware in the coming years, becoming an industry standard. Pancake lenses allow for a narrower form factor and sharper images, which is ideal for the kind of headsets that will eventually appeal to mainstream end users.

Meta and the other leading lights in the XR market segment are currently on a buying spree, snapping smaller VR and other startups with the technologies and solutions that they need for their XR ambitions. Since the GSI acquisition occurred early last year and the employees joined Meta by mid-last year, it is likely that the startup’s technology has already been incorporated into some of Meta’s products that are already available in the market.

GSI’s technology will have the greatest impact on Meta’s augmented reality projects. Up to half of Meta’s investments are currently going into the development of AR headsets. Meta’s first AR headset, a non-commercial version, will likely be unveiled in 2024.

Apart from Meta’s acquisition of Gary Sharp Innovations, the company also acquired optics and display specialists Imagine Optix, Luxexcel, and Lemnis Technologies.

Meta also notched up exclusive rights to the augmented reality displays developed by the manufacturer Plessey.

In the recent past, other leading XR players have also been on a buying spree, snapping up smaller companies with the technology they need. Google acquired Raxium while Apple acquired the optics company Limbak. The race is on by the leading lights in XR to secure the all-important key technologies.

These moves are seen as anti-competitive by some industry observers and even regulators. The FTC, in particular, has moved to stem the practice with injunctions seeking to stop some of the acquisitions.

https://virtualrealitytimes.com/2023/01/14/meta-acquires-yet-another-vr-optics-startup/https://virtualrealitytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/Meta-Quest-Pro-600×448.pnghttps://virtualrealitytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/Meta-Quest-Pro-150×90.pngRob GrantAcquisitionsBusinessIn spite of recent Federal Trade Commission (FTC) injunctions and criticisms from some quarters of the industry, Meta is forging full steam ahead with the acquisition of technology firms whose solutions might help in the company’s own XR projects. The latest acquisition is a startup that specializes in VR…

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