Apple Acquires Virtual Reality Live Streaming Service NextVR

Apple has purchased NextVR, a virtual reality video service that offered 360-degree access to live events, including sporting events from NBA, WWE and NHL. With a VR headset, users could enjoy the feeling of “presence” in NextVR’s panoramic stereoscopic 3D scenes. The company also offered 2D smartphone access and planned to support augmented reality devices. The service never became popular, however, and a failed 2019 funding round followed by the coronavirus-related cancellation of sporting events left it struggling to survive.

VentureBeat reports that the Newport Beach, California-based NextVR is near to “many of Apple’s TV+ operations,” leading it to surmise that, “it’s quite likely that the NextVR team will become involved with future TV+ initiatives, enabling Apple to expand the breadth and/or literal depth of its video offerings.” Apple TV+ “currently offers only 2D videos, and no sporting or other live programming, though the company has been working on a mixed reality headset with an AR focus.”

No details are available on the acquisition, except a suggestion in an April report that Apple might value NextVR “in the $100 million range.” VB adds that, “it’s unclear how much of NextVR is being acquired beyond its personnel and IP such as camera and video upscaling technologies.” NextVR’s website now states it is “heading in a new direction.”

The Verge reports that, “Apple is refusing to disclose financial terms of the deal, as per usual when it acquires companies … [and] it’s unclear how Apple may use the technology NextVR created, but the company is reportedly working on a pair of augmented reality glasses as well as some type of headset.” It adds that, “one or both of those devices may have a VR component similar to how Windows Mixed Reality devices, the HoloLens, and the Magic Leap One operate.”

With Apple TV+, Apple also has a means now to “stream the live event content captured with NextVR’s cameras to smartphones and other screens that may pair with any eventual AR and VR devices.”

Crunchbase reports that, “NextVR has raised more than $115 million” since it was founded in 2009 … ahead of the modern VR wave instigated by Facebook-owned Oculus VR’s record-breaking Kickstarter campaign in 2012.”