On Apple , the Social 3D Web and Mixed Reality

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  • Last week, various sources reported that Apple acquired augmented reality firm Vrvana for $30 million. Describing its unreleased product on the company website, Vrvana said ”Totem’s hand tracking and inside-out positional tracking empowers your workforce to manipulate virtual objects with their hands wherever they please. Totem’s ability to produce truly opaque blacks and seamlessly blend the real world with the virtual enables the creation of unique mixed reality experiences so credible that your customers will actually believe that they are in the action.” 
  • Separately, Greg Fodor (Mozilla’s social mixed reality engineering manager) in the blog post “Enabling the Social 3D Web” said, “Mixed Reality is going to provide a wide variety of applications that will change the way we live and work. One which stands to be the most transformative is the ability to naturally communicate with another person through the Internet. Unlike traditional online communication tools like text, voice, and video, the promise of Mixed Reality is that you can be present with other people, much like real life, and engage with them in a more interactive way. You can make eye contact, nod your head, high five, dance, and even play catch with anyone around the world, regardless of where you are!”
  • "Meeting with others around the world in Mixed Reality should be as easy as sharing a link, and creating a virtual space to spend time in should be as easy as building your first website. To help realize this vision, we have formed a dedicated team focused on Social Mixed Reality."
  • NOTE: While there has been a lot of focus on the benefits and trade-offs between Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, several industry players are using the term "Mixed Realty" to address the dynamics of both market opportunities.


  • Regarding Apple – While Apple currently has not commercial virtual reality offerings, the market is still in an early stage of development.  Pursuing small acquisitions such as Vrvana, seems like an economically sensible alternative compared to the $3 billion purchase of Oculus by Facebook and the approximately $2 billion invested in Magic Leap by organizations such GoogleAlibabaJ.P. Morgan Investment Management and Singapore’s Temasek.
  • Regarding Social VR – Building high quality social virtual reality environments is complex, requiring a diverse set of technical and design skills.  Incorporating support for multi-user/play interaction is critical for the growth of the virtual reality market.
  • As Social VR evolves, it will also be important in address appropriate social etiquette to avoid/ minimize varied forms of bad behavior.
Paul Dravis