Meta, the augmented reality startup that closed in January, is coming back, or at least, its technology itself. A new company called Meta View has purchased the assets of the old Meta, which were sold when the Meta creditor unexpectedly executed its loan. The new company will be headed by former Qualcomm executive Jay Wright, and is building "a complete hardware and software solution for a specific use case" instead of a generalist AR hearing aid.
Wright presided over the Qualcomm Vuforia augmented reality software platform, which was sold in 2015 to the Internet of things company PTC. Investor Olive Tree Ventures says he was chosen to design "a product that combines technological capabilities and market needs, generating real value." A spokesman elaborated a little more, confirming that Meta View would be based on Meta's existing screen technology with its wide field of vision. Meta View will continue to support the old Meta 2 headphones, but will no longer sell new units.
Olive Tree Ventures general partner Mayer Gniwisch describes the company as "extremely optimistic" about the future of augmented reality and space computing. "Our belief was so strong that we made a nontraditional VC deal to acquire the assets, start a new company and find a new CEO with a vision and focus on what we believe in," says Gniwisch. The "nontraditional" agreement apparently refers to the foreclosure. In January, Meta CEO Meron Gribetz suggested that the Meta bank had sold the company below him.
The old Meta was one of the best known players of AR; Meta 2 of $ 949 was regularly described as a competitor to the Magic Leap or Microsoft HoloLens hardware. But the commercial war of the Trump administration with China caused a potential big investor to retire, and the company reduced its size in a massive way, delaying the launch of new headphones and dismissing almost all employees. AR hearing aids, in general, have not made a leap to general audiences; they are limited mainly to industrial or academic use and to some public applications such as visits to museums.
But companies can succeed within that space. Google has just turned its crystal headphones into an official product, for example. Wright has years of experience working in AR in established companies, and Meta View may be in a good position to find a sustainable niche, although it could be less ambitious and more practical than its predecessor.