Despite the hype and potential of immersive computing, the augmented reality industry is showing that it is not invincible, as another AR hardware maker, this time Osterhout Design Group (ODG), is reportedly going out of business.
On Tuesday, asset liquidator Hilco Streambank will begin to sell assets of ODG, including a portfolio of more than 100 awarded patents, an assortment of patent applications in various stages of the evaluation process, trademarks, and "tangible collateral supporting the business." With the sale originally listed in December, as uncovered by UploadVR, offers for the assets are due on Monday.
Citing multiple sources, TechCrunch reports that ODG is now operating with a reduced staff after Magic Leap backed away from a $35 million offer to buy the company. Attempts to sell to Facebook, Razer, and Lenovo also fell through, according to the news site.
Now that ODG's assets are up for grabs, these companies and more can take advantage of whatever aspect of the AR company they were interested in. The patents cover smartglasses form factors, ambient lighting, eye tracking, and hybrid AR/VR headsets, among other technology.
According to Hilco Streambank, roughly a third of the patents cover optics, including the display technology showcased in the R-7, R-8, and R-9 models, with approximately 5% related to AR/VR technology.
Even the bigger tech companies working on AR hardware and software are falling on hard times. Snap continues to lose users and stock value, and even Apple has missed revenue expectations. While the companies have not attributed their difficulties to AR, it's evident that the technology is not yet driving enough growth to make up for deficits in other areas.
So far, 2019 is shaping up to be a crossroads for the AR industry. After years of building excitement, the industry still doesn't have the mainstream hits in hardware or software to match early expectations, and now early entrants have burned through their funding. However, with 2018 producing several innovative products and software platforms and continued investment, as well as a number of promising smartglasses emerging at CES 2019, things may soon be taking a positive turn as the year wears on.