Apple Buys Augmented Reality Software Maker Metaio

The purchase of the German augmented reality company comes after a string of other acquisitions by Apple, including Coherent Navigation earlier in May.

Apple, Metaio, augmented realilty, acquisitions

Apple has bought Metaio, which develops software used to build augmented reality applications and content used in a wide range of fields, including gaming, retailing and product engineering.

The purchase was confirmed in a May 28 report by the Associated Press, which said that details of the transaction and the reasons for the purchase were not disclosed. AR software adds elements including images or information to traditional content, providing participants with enhanced content for gaming, shopping or even industrial modeling activities.

Neither Apple nor Metaio responded to emailed inquiries from eWEEK on May 29 seeking more details about the deal.

On its Website, Metaio describes itself as "pioneers in augmented reality and computer vision" through its software applications including its AR authoring tool, Metaio Creator; its industrial design tool, Metaio Engineer; and its all-encompassing Metaio Suite. It also offers a Metaio SDK and Metaio Cloud services.

The company also notes on the site that all products and subscriptions are no longer available for purchase and that email support will end on June 30, apparently due to the acquisition by Apple. The company's help desk will continue for reference through Dec. 15.

Apple has been on something of an acquisition track as of late as it spends some of the $178 billion in cash it amassed through 2014 for research and acquisitions. In January, Apple announced its best-ever quarterly performance, posting $74.6 billion in revenue and $18 billion in net profits for the first fiscal quarter of 2015 due to a consumer frenzy of sales of its latest iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus smartphones, Mac computers, and apps and more in the company's App Store. That revenue tally is a 30 percent increase from the $57.6 billion in revenue posted for the same quarter a year earlier, while net profit in this interval rose 37 percent from $13.1 billion.

Earlier in May, Apple acquired Coherent Navigation, a Silicon Valley startup that has been using the Iridium satellite network to develop a commercial, high-precision navigation service for a wide range of industries, according to a recent eWEEK story. The financial terms of that deal were not announced, and Coherent Navigation's Website is no longer available online. The company's LinkedIn page says it has "ceased operations at this time."

In April, Apple paid about $20 million to acquire LinX Computational Imaging, an Israel-based company that focuses on designing and selling tiny cameras for use in mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, according to an earlier eWEEK report. LinX combines innovative image processing and advanced sensor and optics technology to create cameras that offer improved image quality, better low-light performance, improved color fidelity and less shutter lag than competing technologies, according to the company.

In March, Apple acquired the startup behind the FoundationDB database in a move that could be aimed at helping Apple continue to improve and support its own services to its own customers. Financial terms of the acquisition were not announced by the companies. FoundationDB is a high-performance database that provides NoSQL and SQL capabilities for users. Such databases have become more popular in recent years compared with traditional relational database management systems because they better serve the emerging generation of interactive applications, according to an earlier eWEEK report. NoSQL databases offer the flexibility, scalability and performance that today's Web and mobile app developers demand.

Apple has been spending some of its huge cash pile on other ideas, as well. In February, it was learned that Apple has been looking to diversify its business into electric car production, possibly by 2020, as it explores new business opportunities outside its core consumer technology and computer, tablet and smartphone businesses.