Metaio, the Germany augmented reality firm, says it expects to have its dedicated chips in mobile devices by year-end, despite the collapse of its one big announced customer, ST-Ericsson. The outfit has also revealed the opening of a new R&D lab in Dallas, Texas.
The company announced the ST-Ericsson deal at Mobile World Congress in February. ST-Ericsson’s future chipsets were to include a dedicated augmented reality (AR) processor using Metaio’s designs – much as is the case with the dedicated GPUs we find in mobile devices today, the benefit of a dedicated AR chip is to cut down the power-draw required by specific functions, in this case augmented reality, so people can fire up applications using those functions without worrying about their phone or tablet dying too quickly.
However, less than a month later STMicroelectronics and Ericsson announced the end of their chipset joint venture, along with the cancellation of the ST-Ericsson NovaThor chipsets that were also announced at Mobile World Congress. Nonetheless, Metaio told me at the time that it was still in talks with both STMicro and Ericsson about the use of its technology.
According to Metaio spokeswoman Anett Gläsel-Maslov, these talks are still underway, as are negotiations with other (undisclosed) companies. What’s more, she said, the company is near-certain that it will see its “AR Engine in devices by the end of the year”.
To develop its AR Engine designs further, Metaio is to open a new research facility in Dallas, the company said on Wednesday. Metaio already has an office in San Francisco, so it’s not a matter of getting closer to potential customers – instead, Gläsel-Maslov told me, the firm hopes to scoop up engineers who might be at a loose end following Texas Instruments’ winding-down of its OMAP mobile processor business.