Wave Optics, the Milton Park, Oxfordshire-based augmented reality company, is to sell to USA-based Snap Inc for $500 million. Smap is a tech business, which calls itself a camera company which believes in “reinventing the camera represents our greatest opportunity to improve the way people live and communicate.”
WaveOptics launched in 2014 and now has more than 100 employees. It create waveguides and projectors to unlock the potential of augmented reality for the mass market.
Waveguides are a display technology that enables the overlaying of virtual objects onto the real world through a transparent surface like glass, and accompanying light projectors. Snap is using WaveOptics displays in the new spectacles announced this week.
Snap’s purchase of Wave Optics enables it to acquire the maker of a key component for AR glasses in a fast-growing industry.
Wave Optics had previously raised a total of $60 million to date, with the most recently announced final closing of $39m Series C funding.
According to Simon King, of Octopus Investors, which had backed Wave Optics: “To date, head-worn Augmented Reality (AR) has remained on the edge of our lives. It’s there in defence, industry and medicine but we’re not walking the streets wearing Google Glass or a chunky Microsoft HoloLens headset yet. But AR hasn’t been idle. The acquisition of Wave Optics by Snap Inc is the biggest UK deep tech acquisition in years and a major step towards AR’s integration into society.
“Snap, which describes itself as a ‘camera company’, is the world’s leading AR exponent, supplying filters and superimposed images to its 270 million eager customers. Meanwhile WaveOptics has been quietly developing its waveguide technology since 2012 and is now leading the race in achieving AR devices light and wearable enough to enter the mainstream. After many false dawns, Snap’s acquisition of WaveOptics brings the AR era one big step closer.”