Apple acquires German company that may hold key to AR future

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SensoMotoric Instruments
SensoMotoric Instruments eye-tracking glasses.
Photo: SensoMotoric Instruments

Apple may have just made a key acquisition that could help the company create a truly revolutionary augmented reality headset. According to a new report, German eye-tracking company SensoMotoric Instruments has been purchased by an Apple shell company, giving the iPhone-maker access the company’s trove of patents related to eye-tracking glasses and other systems.

News of the acquisition of SensoMotoric Instruments was unearthed by MacRumors, which found several documents with the German Company Register outlining new articles of incorporation. It appears that the company was purchased by Vineyard Capital Corporation, one of Apple’s many shell companies.

Gene Levoff, Apple’s vice president of corporate law, signed a paper granting power of attorney to German law firm Hiking Kühn Lüer Wojtek in the effort to acquire SensoMotoric Instruments. Levoff’s signature is a dead giveaway that Apple is behind the acquisition. His signing was even notarized in Cupertino, California, where Apple’s headquarters are located.

Apple AR glasses

Buying SensoMotoric could be a huge asset, as Apple is rumored to be working on a set of augmented reality glasses. The AR product isn’t expected to launch until next year at the earliest. However, Apple is already laying the foundation for its augmented-reality future with the release of ARKit, a framework for developing AR apps for iOS, at this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference.

SensoMotoric’s eye-tracking technology for augmented-reality glasses could play a pivotal role for Apple. The technology could be used as an input method for AR. The company holds a ton of other patents related to virtual reality, too.

Here’s a video of SensoMotoric Instruments’ tech in action: