Snap Inc said Friday it will acquire WaveOptics Ltd, a British augmented reality (AR) technology company, for over $500 million.
The deal, first reported by The Verge and confirmed by a Snap spokesman, will help the owner of photo messaging app Snapchat push its way into a future where AR eyewear could be ubiquitous.
Snap, along with other tech giants like Facebook Inc and Apple Inc, are racing to build AR devices as the next technological frontier after the smartphone.
The vision behind AR eyewear is that it could allow a user to virtually see route directions in front of them, or see information about a landmark in their surroundings, for example.
Snap said it will pay half the $500 million for WaveOptics in stock at closing, and the other half will be paid in either cash or stock in two years. Snap is based in Santa Monica, California, while WaveOptics is headquartered in Oxford, England.
On Thursday, Snap unveiled a new version of its Spectacles glasses, the first to incorporate AR with two built-in cameras, two speakers and four microphones.
The new Spectacles won’t be sold to the public, and will only be available to AR developers who apply to use the glasses.