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Report: Apple Acquires German Eye-Tracking Firm

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    Apple has reportedly acquired eye-tracking solutions firm SensoMotoric Instruments.

    According to MacRumors, the German computer vision company recently filed documents outlining new articles of incorporation, and stripped its website of information about its products.

    Founded in 1991, SMI is focused on scientific and professional eye-tracking research solutions, virtual and augmented reality applications, and OEM integrations.

    Technology based on dark pupil and corneal reflection tracking can be embedded into head-mounted displays, simulators, cars, computers—perhaps even smartphones.

    Augmented reality is already getting a boost with iOS 11’s ARKit, which allows developers to blend digital information with the real world to create interactive user experiences.

    Add to that SMI’s dark pupil and corneal reflection tracking, and you’ve got some real futuristic possibilities in the palm of your hand.

    Neither Cupertino nor SensoMotoric immediately responded to Geek’s request for comment.

    The tech titan, however, all but confirmed the news via its boilerplate statement to Axios: “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” a company representative said.

    The acquisition is backed up by an anonymous MacRumors tipster, who allegedly spoke to an Apple employee who said the deal is complete.

    In January, rumors spread that Apple and German optics manufacturer Carl Zeiss had teamed up to make a “light pair of augmented/mixed reality glasses” this year. And if Cupertino’s patent filing from 2016 is any indication, we could be getting a flexible, AMOLED-driven translucent screen that wraps around the user’s head.

    SensoMotoric Instruments, meanwhile, has developed a range of hardware and software for use in research, training, linguistics, neuroscience, biomechanics, psychology, vision science, and, of course, virtual and augmented reality.

    One of its main product lines, mobile eye-tracking glasses (ETG), provides insights into the optic behavior of users in a natural environment. The wearable records a person’s natural gaze in real time, making it easier to evaluate and improve an athlete’s visual performance, for instance.

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