Technology giant gains 80 wearable computing patents in secretive deal

Microsoft bought wearable tech assets for $150m

Microsoft has acquired a collection of assets from wearable computing firm Osterhout Design Group for a suspected $150 million.

The technology juggernaut was in talks to purchase ODG entirely in September last year, an unnamed source told TechCrunch. However, the deal later switched to an IP acquisition. The transaction was completed last year and all related patents and IP transferred in January.

The hefty price tag of $100 million-to-$150 million was attached by another source. Microsoft has given no official comment so far, but the deal has was confirmed by ODG founder and inventor Ralph Osterhout.

For its cash, Microsoft now owns 80 patents relating to wearable computing and head-mounted displays. Six of those have been issued and the remainders are in progress.

The race for wearable computing and headset technology leapt up several notches last week, when Facebook swooped in to purchase Oculus VR for $2 billion. Facebook’s shock came just days after Sony unveiled its Project Morpheus headset at GDC in San Francisco.

Adding Microsoft’s name to this list of major players is further legitimising VR and wearables as next step for gaming, at least from the hardware manufacturers’ perspective. So far, some publishers and content providers have doubts about whether consumers will take to VR in large numbers. Ubisoft has admitted that it won’t support VR until the technology reaches the one million-unit milestone worldwide.

Analyst Anthony Mullen of Forrester Research recently told Develop in our investigation on wearable tech and games that “most gaming companies are looking at wearables as something to experiment with and do research on – they aren’t pivoting the future of the company on it”.

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