By Don Clark
Intel Corp., continuing its push beyond chips for personal computers, is buying a small company called Voke that developed technology for creating virtual-reality experiences based on live action.
Financial terms weren't disclosed. Voke, based in Intel's hometown of Santa Clara, Calif., has about 20 employees, Intel said.
Most virtual-reality software is based on animated scenes. But Voke developed a system called TrueVR that uses sets of paired cameras and software that help capture live images and simulate the sensation of three-dimensional space for viewers with computer displays or virtual-reality headsets.The company, founded in 2004, works with broadcasters and others to capture and stream action during events such as basketball games and fashion shows to let users view the action from multiple angles.
Sports has become a particular focus in the past year for Intel, whose chip business has experienced the effects of a shrinking PC market and the company's failure to gain traction in chips for smartphones. Intel in March announced a deal to buy Replay Technologies, an Israeli company whose 3-D video technology has been used by some U.S. sports broadcasters. Terms weren't disclosed, but The Wall Street Journal reported that the company was expected to pay between $150 million and $170 million.
The chip maker, which has been marketing 3-D camera technology known as RealSense, has also pushed into immersive headset displays. Intel in August showed off Project Alloy, a prototype for a headset with front-facing cameras to offer what ChiefExecutive Brian Krzanich calls "merged reality" -- a blend of animation and real-world images supplied by the RealSense cameras.
Wendell Brooks, an Intel senior vice president and president of its venture-capital unit, said virtual reality is an attractive field because it requires computing horsepower that tends to drive demand for Intel chips. Sports and gaming, meanwhile, are two areas that drive considerable consumer spending and advertising dollars, he said.
At the same time, the availability of new virtual-reality headsets has outstripped high-quality programming for the hardware. "There is not a lot of great content," Mr. Brooks said.
With the aid of Voke, he said, Intel can help address that gap -- particularly in the field of sports. "Voke is going to allow us to accelerate our route to market with leagues and broadcasters," Mr. Brooks said.
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(END) Dow Jones NewswiresNovember 03, 2016 13:08 ET (17:08 GMT)
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