Intel Buys Small VR Tech Vendor Voke

The chip maker will use Voke's virtual reality cameras and software as part of Intel's larger efforts around blending technology and sports.

Intel VR

Intel is taking another step into the worlds of virtual reality and sports technology with plans to buy a small company called Voke that sells immersive sports video equipment.

The move comes months after Intel bought Replay Technologies to expand its presence in such areas as 3D video, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), and less than two week after the chip maker announced the creation of the Intel Sports division, which will pursue opportunities in what Intel officials call the "digitization of sports."

No financial details were released regarding the purchase of 12-year-old Voke.

The deal is also part of Intel's larger strategy to extend its reach in the area of immersive computing, which includes technologies such as VR and AR. The chip maker already has used 360-degree camera technology from Replay for such events as the NBA All-Star Game and the X-Games in Aspen, Colo. Now the company will be able to expand what it can do in the immersive sports market.

"Virtual reality (VR), or what Intel CEO Brian Krzanich has stated as 'merged' reality, is an important building block for delivering a truly immersive sports experience, one that uses computing power to deliver virtual-world experiences more dynamically and naturally than ever before," James Carwana, general manager of the Intel Sports Group, wrote in a post on the company blog. "Imagine being able to witness a slam dunk from the defender's perspective or the defensive rush from the quarterback's perspective. This kind of experience may sound futuristic, but it's closer than you think."

Intel is looking to expand into a broad array of emerging growth markets, including VR, drones, autonomous vehicles, the internet of things (IoT), the cloud, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. Under Krzanich, the company is moving beyond its legacy as a PC and server chip supplier, and now sees a role, not only in many of the systems in these emerging markets, but also as the foundational technology supplier for the supporting infrastructure.

With VR, the chip maker's efforts include its work on such products as the RealSense 3D camera technology, acquisitions of such companies as Replay, Voke and, in September, Movidius, and investments in others, including Dysonics and InContext Solutions.

Voke's TrueVR portfolio includes stereoscopic cameras that can capture 180- to 360-degree views of events, from the NCAA Final Four basketball tournament to the New York Fashion Week shows. Users can view the events through a range of devices, from VR headsets to PCs, tablets and smartphones. In addition, the technology enables events to be live-streamed in VR.

Intel could pair the Voke TrueVR products with the freeD technology the chip maker picked up in the deal for Replay. The Replay cameras are placed all around an event—such as a baseball or basketball game—and software in servers then stitches the images together to give users a seamless 360-degree view of the event. The team from Replay that developed the freed technology is now part of Intel's Sports Group, according to Carwana.