Social media company Snap is buying WaveOptics, which provides augmented reality (AR) displays, for more than $500 million. The Verge reported on Friday (May 21) that the deal, which is Snap’s biggest, shows that the company is betting that AR eyewear will eventually go mainstream.
According to the report, WaveOptics products allow for the overlaying of virtual objects onto the real world. The WaveOptics website says the company produces waveguides and light projectors in a bid “to unlock the potential of augmented reality for the mass market.”
The deal is worth about $500 million in cash and stock, with about half paid upfront in stock. Snap will pay the remainder in either cash or stock in two years.
U.K.-based WaveOptics, which was founded in 2014, had raised a total of $65 million in funding, according to the financial data firm PitchBook. The roughly 125-person team will now report to the director of Snap’s hardware division, Steen Strand, according to The Verge.
On Thursday (May 20), Santa Monica, California-based Snap introduced the latest iteration of its Spectacles product. In a press release, Snap described the new generation of Spectacles as “Snap’s first pair of display glasses designed for creators to overlay their Lenses directly onto the world.” Snap said the new product, which is not yet available for sale to consumers, is “the next step in Snap’s journey to reinvent the camera. Over time, Snap’s innovations across camera hardware and software technology have evolved to help Snapchatters express themselves, communicate with friends and learn about the world.”
Also on Thursday, Snap said it is enhancing its interactive features, particularly those focused on AR. The tech platform announced a myriad of updates and tools to connect users with brands and businesses, and to boost creators’ capabilities on the platform. For example, with Scan, users can take a picture of an outfit or select a photo from their “Memories” to get shopping recommendations through Screenshop, a tech startup that Snap recently acquired.