Apple Acquires German Eye Tracking Firm SensoMotoric Instruments

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Jun 26, 2017.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Apple has almost certainly acquired German computer vision company SensoMotoric Instruments, a provider of eye tracking glasses and systems, based on evidence compiled by MacRumors.


    On May 2, Apple's vice president of corporate law Gene Levoff, representing Delaware-based shell company Vineyard Capital Corporation, granted power of attorney to German law firm Hiking Kühn Lüer Wojtek to represent Vineyard Capital Corporation in all business related to the acquisition of SensoMotoric Instruments.


    On June 16, SensoMotoric Instruments filed several documents with the German Company Register outlining new articles of incorporation. SensoMotoric's previous managing director Eberhard Schmidt was replaced by Dr. Ali Sahin, one of the German attorneys representing Vineyard Capital Corporation.

    Vineyard Capital Corporation is listed as having acquired all company shares of SensoMotoric Instruments.

    Apple takes steps to hide its acquisitions through shell companies, which essentially only exist on paper, but Levoff's signature on one of the documents is a clear giveaway that Vineyard Capital Corporation is Apple. Levoff even notarized the document in Cupertino, California, where Apple is headquartered.

    SensoMotoric Instruments recently updated its website, removing over a dozen pages with detailed information about its products. The website also no longer has a jobs portal, news blog, schedule of events and workshops, contact information, list of distributors and resellers, or mailing list signup form.

    An archived version of the website from last week indicated the company was hiring, but the current version does not. Schmidt's name and headshot have also been removed from the website now that he is no longer managing director. Christian Villwock, Director of OEM Solutions Business, was also removed.

    The acquisition is backed up by an anonymous tipster, who told us that he allegedly spoke to an Apple employee today who said the deal has been completed. Additionally, one of SensoMotoric's clients informed us that they have been attempting to contact the company for several weeks without hearing back.

    Apple and SensoMotoric Instruments did not respond to multiple requests for comments. SensoMotoric's phone line was out of service.

    SensoMotoric Instruments, founded in 1991, has developed a range of eye tracking hardware and software for several fields of use, including virtual and augmented reality, in-car systems, clinical research, cognitive training, linguistics, neuroscience, physical training and biomechanics, and psychology.

    The company's Eye Tracking Glasses, for instance, are capable of recording a person's natural gaze behavior in real-time and in real world situations with a sampling rate up to 120Hz. As seen in the video below, one possible use case is for athletes looking to evaluate and improve their visual performance.

    SensoMotoric has also developed eye-tracking technology for virtual reality headsets such as the Oculus Rift, which can analyze the wearer's gaze and help to reduce motion sickness, a common side effect of VR. The solution can also allow for a person's gaze to control menus or aim in a game with their gaze.

    SensoMotoric's other eye-tracking solutions include standalone devices, such as the RED250mobile, which allows saccade-based studies to be conducted at 250Hz for researchers who require both mobility and high sampling rate.

    Apple has reportedly prototyped a pair of "smart glasses" that would connect to an iPhone and display "images and other information" to the wearer, and SensoMotoric's eye-tracking technology could feasibly play a role in that product alongside solutions from Apple's other acquisitions like Faceshift.

    Apple CEO Tim Cook has also repeatedly expressed a "profound" interest in augmented reality, calling the technology "a big idea" like the smartphone. He said augmented reality should "amplify" human contact, but noted "there are things to discover before that technology is good enough for the mainstream."

    With iOS 11, Apple is delving into augmented reality in a big way, introducing an ARKit development platform that will allow developers to quickly and easily build augmented reality experiences into their apps and games.

    SensoMotoric Instruments is headquartered in Teltow, Germany, near Berlin, and its website said it had an office in Boston as well. It's unclear if the company and its roughly 60 employees, according to LinkedIn, will merge within Apple or remain an independent subsidiary. Financial terms of the deal are unknown.

    Eric Slivka contributed to this report.

    Update: "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans," an Apple representative said in a statement to Axios, essentially confirming the deal.

    Article Link: Apple Acquires German Eye Tracking Firm SensoMotoric Instruments
  2. ButteryScrollin macrumors 6502a

    Jul 29, 2014
  3. djcerla macrumors 68000


    Apr 23, 2015
    all signs point to an iPhone-like, pirate-flag-on-roof endeavor currently brewing in Cupertino.
  4. farewelwilliams macrumors 68000

    Jun 18, 2014
    "let's shoot lasers into your eyes!" -how not to market it
  5. VulchR macrumors 68020


    Jun 8, 2009
    I know a few cognitive scientists, psychologists and neuroscientists that are going to be a little worried about whether the company is going to continue to offer research-grade eye trackers....
  6. jmh600cbr macrumors 6502a


    Feb 14, 2012
    this is the most exciting thing since the iphone development
  7. NinjaHERO macrumors 6502a


    Aug 29, 2008
    U S of A
  8. LukasValine macrumors regular


    Nov 5, 2013
    Wearing glasses when your eyesight is fine sounds so incredibly hipster.
  9. Fall Under Cerulean Kites macrumors 6502

    Fall Under Cerulean Kites

    May 12, 2016
    It’s hipster when they’re not doing anything for you. In this case, it seems they have a function aside from improving one’s eyesight deficits.
  10. Dave245 macrumors 603


    Sep 15, 2013
    This could very good, but my concern is how would they make it work for people like myself who already have to wear glasses in order to see? Plus they would need to avoid the pitfalls that caused the downfall of Google Glass.
  11. lunarworks macrumors 65816

    Jun 17, 2003
    Toronto, Canada
    From the looks of it Apple's testing their new AR glasses out in Nova Scotia.

  12. rippley5150 macrumors regular


    Jan 18, 2015
    Sterling VA
    I so miss Trailer Park Boys !!! lol
  13. peteo macrumors regular

    Sep 23, 2007
    I remember when I got the first iPhone (after the price cut) I felt extremely conscious taking it out and staring at the screen. Now its laughable to think about that
  14. TimUSCA macrumors 6502a


    Mar 17, 2006
    Aiken, SC
    I'm excited about nearly every Apple product that's come out, but I'll say the same thing about this that I said about Google Glass.

    I don't understand why anyone would buy this. The concept is neat, but I don't see it having any success in the real world. Having data pop up while you're going about your business would be incredibly distracting. People wear glasses because they have to... because their eyesight sucks or the sun is in their eyes. I don't see people paying hundred of dollars to wear something on their face unless they absolutely have to.

    Also, the cameras make people nervous and they will undoubtedly create a lot of attention that will create awkward conversations when you're just trying to go about your business.

    Am I missing something here? It seems like it'd be useful, but not enough to warrant all the downsides that come with it.
  15. nfilg macrumors member


    Sep 5, 2012
    even this guy looks cool! When you look at the people in the eyeTracking video

  16. lunarworks macrumors 65816

    Jun 17, 2003
    Toronto, Canada
    They're currently filming season 12 for Netflix.
  17. Attirex macrumors 6502

    Apr 8, 2015
    NYT Magazine posts an article in 3....2....1...... ....about how mega-corps like Apple stifle innovation not only through militaristic structure, bloated bureaucracy, and slow-to-react steering, but also by snapping up smaller, innovative companies who would have otherwise gone onto change the blah, blah, blah......
  18. dogslobber macrumors 68040


    Oct 19, 2014
    Apple Campus, Cupertino CA
    These glasses were all the rage in the 90s.

  19. AdFeCu macrumors newbie

    Jul 22, 2016
    Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
    Amazing. But I wonder what effect will it have on the wearer's vision? My vision, for example, has worsened because of my extended use of the iPad. Will the rumored AR device cause more damage to my eyes?
  20. flipphillips macrumors newbie


    Jun 26, 2017
    Camden N200R
    SMI has never had competent / capable Apple support... so maybe now? Note also, Facebook bought the $99 eye tracker company EyeTribe, SMI's technology is 100x more sophisticated, but comes in at several orders of magnitude more expensive. It will be interesting to see how well this works out.
  21. Gasu E. macrumors 601

    Gasu E.

    Mar 20, 2004
    Not far from Boston, MA.
    Are you missing something here? Yes, the entire content of this post, which is unrelated to anything you mention.
  22. Will.O.Bie macrumors 6502


    Aug 29, 2016
    I got my a$$ kicked in high school for wearing thick glasses, now I'm just gonna get killed :p

    I guess style is not even in the same atmosphere when you're designing futuristic spectacles.
  23. Sill macrumors 6502a

    Nov 14, 2014

    Keep in mind how many times in the past Apple came up with something incredibly unexpected. People had no idea there'd even be a use case for such an item until Steve was showing it off on stage, and then suddenly it was sooo simple, why didn't anyone think of that?

    This product will be useful, but not in its current form. The team at Apple has a year - maybe two - of integration work ahead of them. But this was the major piece missing from the puzzle, the new skunkworks project I've been telling this forum about for nearly two years.

    This is part of Project Magic. Its the last thing Steve was about before he died. And its going to be insanely great.
  24. Edsel macrumors 6502

    Mar 18, 2010
    Over There
    Eye tracking glasses at Hooters could add value to employee evaluations.
  25. mi7chy macrumors 601


    Oct 24, 2014
    If Google Glass makes one look like a cyborg then this makes one look like a cydork.

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