Apple is acquiring Spaces, a virtual reality (VR) company that recently switched from developing theme park attractions to adding VR headsets to standard video conferencing apps.
Apple has shown growing interest in both virtual and augmented reality, and has recently been actively developing headsets, but a device like this has yet to be released publicly.
In these situations, Apple confirmed the acquisition to Axios with the comment that it normally provides. “Apple purchases from time to time from smaller technology companies and we usually don’t address our intent or plans.”
Spaces posted a thank-you message to users on their website but gave no further information.
Spaces revealed last week that it would shut down its current services, telling users to its website that it was “moving in a new direction,” without providing any further information. “Thank you to our users and partners who took part in our amazing VR video conferencing experience and to the many people who enjoyed our VR location-based entertainment experiences located in theme parks, theaters and more,” the statement concluded.
Spaces grew out of DreamWorks Animation in early 2016, and produced a number of location-based VR experiences, including “Terminator Salvation: Battle for the Future.” At the height of the pandemic, the company had to close down its VR centers, lay off some employees in the process, and take a small PPP loan to keep the lights on. “COVID-19 looked like a tsunami to us,” Shioraz Akmal, CEO of Spaces told us.
Apple has been working on its own AR/VR headset for some time and has acquired several AR and VR startups to build out its staff for the project. Other recent acquisitions in the space include NextVR, Akonia Holographics, and Vrvana. Apple has yet to officially acknowledge plans to launch such a headset.
It’s still unclear whether the Spaces team will work on VR at Apple. Either way, the exit is a bad omen for the location-based VR industry, which has been struggling to survive through the pandemic. Just last week, news broke that fellow location-based VR startup Sandbox VR had filed for bankruptcy.