Apple buys into augmented reality - for cars?

May 29, 2015 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Munich-based augmented reality software vendor Metaio GmbH has been acquired by Apple. The move fuels anew speculations around Apple’s plans to enter the automotive market.

Augmented reality technology increasingly becomes relevant for cars, and Metaio was a major player in this arena. At the recent Embedded World trade fair, FPGA vendor Xilinx showcased a camera-based indoor navigation application that helps car drivers to find their way in multi-storey and underground car parks. The application ran on a Xlinix Zync processor, the software came from Metaio. Another known Metaio application is an interactive user manual for car drivers that makes heavily use of AR elements. Metaio’s most visible project however was not directed to the automotive industry: Swedish furniture maker Ikea had Metaio develop a smartphone app that enabled prospective users to arrange Ikea furniture in their homes.

According to media reports, Metaio has already acknowledged the takeover, and the company’s website has drastically reduced its content. Given Metaio’s known relationship with the automotive industry, Apple’s move now rises speculations regarding the company’s plans to enter the automotive market. Only some months ago, the German carmaker scene was in turmoil because the Silicon-Valley based technology group apparently was on a shopping spree for expert labour force; Apple hired several high-profile car managers. Past week, Apple manager Jeff Williams referred to the car as “the ultimate mobile device.”

Related articles:

Xilinx flexes its muscles in the ADAS arena