Apple Buys German Firm SenoMotoric For Eye Tracking And AR Expertise
SMI's eye-tracking hardware is used in a variety of applications, including virtual and augmented reality, early autism detection in children, in-car systems, brain mapping and neurology, vision science, psychology, physical training, and the list goes on.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons CC-BY-SA 3.0 (Joe Ravi)
Apple is not really commenting on the acquisition. In a short statement provided to Axios, Apple said it "buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans." Apple's quest for secrecy runs even deeper than that—as with other smaller acquisitions it has made in the past, Apple tried to hide this one through shell companies, which MacRumors traced back to the outfit.
What Apple ultimately has planned is a mystery for the time being. That said, SMI makes eye tracking glasses that can record a person's gaze behavior in real-time with a sampling rate of up to 120Hz. It has also developed eye-tracking technology for VR headsets like the Oculus Rift that can detect and analyze a person's gaze to help reduce motion sickness.
Apple could be going in any number of directions here. It might be interested in developing and licensing technologies to third parties, or this could be part of a larger AR play that could tie into macOS or iOS, just as Microsoft is working to implement AR technology into Windows 10.