Microsoft reportedly pays as much as $150 million for wearable computing assets

Xbox maker supposedly pays millions to buy IP assets related to augmented reality and other wearable technology.

Image credit: TechCrunch

While Oculus VR and Facebook are making most of the headlines this week in the virtual reality space, Microsoft is also reportedly making moves in this sector. Sources told TechCrunch today that Microsoft has paid as much as $150 million to buy IP assets related to augmented reality and head-mounted computing technology.

Microsoft reportedly purchased the assets from the Osterhout Design Group (ODG), an under-the-radar tech company that creates products for the consumer, industrial, and military markets.

TechCrunch reports that Microsoft was in discussions to buy ODG outright, but instead chose to buy some of its IP instead, for a price estimated to be between $100 million and $150 million. This deal reportedly closed in November with the patents transferring to Microsoft in January.

Rumors of an augmented reality gaming initiative from Microsoft date back years.

Some of the patents Microsoft reportedly scooped up cover things like "see-through near-eye display glasses including a partially reflective, partially transmitting optical element," as well as "video display modification based on sensor input for a see-through near-to-eye display."

Microsoft has not commented on the report, so take this with a grain of salt for now.

If Microsoft did in fact acquire the assets, there's a number of possibilities for what they might be used for. One seemingly apparent use would be for gaming. Xbox boss Phil Spencer said during the Game Developers Conference last week that Microsoft has been tinkering with virtual reality for "quite a while." Now that Facebook has acquired Oculus and Sony is in the market with Project Morpheus, Microsoft following suit wouldn't be too much of a stretch.

In July 2012, a purported Microsoft roadmap document for the Xbox One showed that the company plans to introduce an augmented reality endeavor called "Fortazela." sometime in 2014. The glasses will reportedly run on Wi-Fi and 4G connections.

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuch
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Discussion

114 comments
rarson
rarson

Nah, you've got it all wrong. Microsoft is scooping up patents for trolling purposes.

damo320
damo320

God I hope this never takes off.

Future will be full of cross eyed people with a permanent migraine.

kane6911
kane6911

this looks better than anything sony could do. its not bulky and it's a really simple design. go ahead xbox i will wait for this if it ever happens.

xantufrog
xantufrog

"quick, now that Oculus has money and Sony is getting devs on board, let's buy everything we can to try and crush them all"

beuneus12
beuneus12

sometimes I wish the wii was never released

Zombrex
Zombrex

Great, another fad that will be largely unsupported and largely ignored by the average consumer.

Marky360
Marky360

So insted of creating VR Microsoft decided to just buy someome eleses already established VR?

berserker66666
berserker66666

Aha. They also spent millions designing the Xbone controllers right? Righhhhht.

randomkidlol
randomkidlol

1. Make piece of shit VR device

2. Sell to microsoft for ez 150 mil

3. ???

4. Profit

Flamerdragon
Flamerdragon

Augmented Reality glasses would be good actually. Would prefer them. Cool Huds on the glasses instead on screen, Have the screen free.


Glasses not being bulky and block entire vision of the player.

This might be one think I would give Microsoft a vote for this generation if they achieve this.


No need for earbuds though. if it is not VR.


Jdzspace
Jdzspace

Well they gotta think of something. they put all their eggs in the Titanfall basket, and are still getting doubled up in sales......so what's their next trick?


who knows, maybe something will work in their favor. right now they are just swinging in the dark

warhawk-geeby
warhawk-geeby

So on screen huds then I guess..? Cool enough. Can't see it being completely immersive though with it only being glasses.

Id rather pay the extra bit and have full blown VR personally.. but that's because I feel gaming needs to take the next step forward.

andfx8
andfx8

I feel like all these VR headsets and Google Glass-type things are going to give everyone brain tumors or something 

pyro1245
pyro1245

hahahah. those little ear buds make me giggle

elbauto
elbauto

Now we are talking...

limsix
limsix

Now the news is rumor? Or official?

mkeezay22
mkeezay22

This looks like a serious piece of crap, I know I haven't seen anything about it but by the look it will be used for arcade games or something not to demanding.

endorbr
endorbr

Another waste of money by the industry trying to develop technology that people outside of niche markets will never care about.

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

"video display modification based on sensor input for a see-through near-to-eye display."


This doesn't sound as much as the run of the mill VR, as a wearable and possibly less expensive version of the illumiroom, designed to augment your surroundings as opposed to providing a closed VR environment.

TristanPR77
TristanPR77

I think this is more an initiative to compete against Google Glass.

One thing we learned from GDC is that the console is very important for processing VR. Microsoft have the weakest console, do you imagine that console, apart from kinect, trying to process VR or whatever else? There is going to be a lot of limitations.

Riddick123
Riddick123

That illustration needs to be banned.  I see no diversity in it.  There needs to be at least one chubby person and another of a different ethnicity.  Highly offensive.

ERRMAHGERD
ERRMAHGERD

And then Apple comes in and completely crushes & steals the show. 

matthewkenealy
matthewkenealy

Seem like they ended up with a better deal the Facebook. Let's just hope it works well and it affordable. Plus, it should be made compatible with PC and Xbox One if they want to encourage the use of it.

blackace
blackace

VR/AR Glasses will be very cool. M$ has a long way to go to make this a reality though.

charlesswann
charlesswann

1 .. 2 .. 3 .. And another future fail from Microsoft.

Vinnvn
Vinnvn

@Marky360  

Microsoft can't create anything, they are not hardware company...you want VR with power brick?

mojo51
mojo51

@shinjuki I think Kinect is the key here. You would be able to use the motion tracking to display your actual hands in game. FaceRift has mouse and keyboard, Sony has those wand things, and XbOne will be able to track your movements. With voice commands you could sit on your couch and be the Captain of the Enterprise. Sounds fun.

Marky360
Marky360

andfx8

You wouldn know wouldn't you Rick?

Spartan_418
Spartan_418

@Riddick123 there also needs to be a kid with PS Move controllers strapped to his wrists and ankles, doing a handstand 

Slvrshot
Slvrshot

@Vinnvn  Actually they are. They are a devices and services company. 

endorbr
endorbr

In what scenario would it EVER be free?

GrendelSP
GrendelSP

@shinjuki @GrendelSP  You know that you are now stating you opinion as fact right? You know that you are on the internet right? Just checking.