Published in IoT

Qualcomm flogs off AR unit

by on13 October 2015

Not optimistic about optics

While most of the big names of the technology industry is rushing to strap goggles onto their customers's faces, Qualcomm is actually walking away.

Qualcomm is the latest to bow out of AR and is flogging its Vuforia business, the AR toolkit and engine that powers devices like Mattel's re-envisioning of the View Master for the 21st century.

Vuforia, which we have written about before,  does things like AR marker identification and tracking, but can also spot objects - including toys, as well as more generic shapes like cylinders and cubes and text.

These could be used to overlay computer-generated graphics, or allow object interactions to interact with those graphics.

The question is why and the answers appear to be about money. While there is absolutely no doubt that AR is cool no one has really worked out a good way to make money from it. Sure you could sell the headsets and software, but that is the old way of doing things. Firstly the old way of doing it would end up with the customer having to shell out far too much money to allow for the technology to catch on.

This would mean that if Qualcomm wants to be in the AR game it will have to pay a lot of cash to subsidise the launch of the technology. Qualcomm is not exactly strapped for cash, but it is under pressure. VR is not going to earn the sort of money the large up-front cost requires.

PTC is buying the company for $65m in order to integrate it into its own AR and ThingWorx IoT platforms. In a statement Qualcomm said:

"You may have heard the news that Qualcomm has signed an agreement to sell the Vuforia business to PTC, a global provider of technology platforms and solutions. We'll be sharing more information when the transaction closes, but wanted to assure you that PTC has stated they are fully committed to maintaining continued growth for the Vuforia community and continued investment in the Vuforia platform. Current apps will remain unchanged and developers will continue to have the same level of support from the Vuforia team as the business transitions to PTC"

Qualcomm insists that it will continue with Vuforia development, and that developers shouldn't expect any unpleasant surprises. It wants to invest in computer vision tech, and build on computational vision abilities in its Snapdragon processors.

Last modified on 13 October 2015
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