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.

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Image credit: TechCrunch
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.
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.

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