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Meta Platforms reportedly circling Canadian maker of smart glasses

Meta considering offer for Ontario-based AdHawk Microsystems

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Meta Platforms Inc. reportedly has interest in acquiring Ontario-based AdHawk Microsystems Inc., a company that has developed camera-free, eye-tracking glasses that can be used for research purposes.

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The owner of Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram, might make the company an offer in the coming weeks, Bloomberg News reported, citing “people familiar” with Meta’s apparent interest in Kitchener, Ont.-based AdHawk. The company didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment about the article. Bloomberg reported that all parties involved declined to comment.

AdHawk was founded by University of Waterloo graduates Neil Sarkar, the company’s CEO; Sandro Banerjee, the CFO; and Nino Zahirovic, who serves as chief technology officer. The company so far has raised at least US$16.8 million, according to Crunchbase. The company’s lead investors are South Korea’s Samsung Venture Investment Corp., Silicon Valley Bank, and Intel Capital.

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The company has developed the AdHawk MindLink, which allows “all-day research that connects eye movements with neurological and ocular health, human behaviour, and state of mind,” and provides “unprecedented speed and data quality in a mobile device.”

AdHawk’s MindLink glasses. Photo by https://www.adhawkmicrosystems.com/

If Meta is indeed circling, it probably is interested in adding AdHawk’s innovations to bolster its push into augmented reality.

AdHawk’s glasses use ultra-compact micro-electromechanical systems instead of cameras, which eliminates the need for image processing and increases its efficiency.

“The system is so fast it can accurately predict where a user will look next — up to 20 milliseconds before their eyes fixate — and gaze is captured 500 times per second with better than one degree of accuracy,” the company said in a press release in March last year.

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  1. Sheryl Sandberg in 2018.

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  3. WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 10:  Facebook co-founder, Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a combined Senate Judiciary and Commerce committee hearing in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill April 10, 2018 in Washington, DC. Zuckerberg, 33, was called to testify after it was reported that 87 million Facebook users had their personal information harvested by Cambridge Analytica, a British political consulting firm linked to the Trump campaign.

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Sarkar, the CEO, said last year that he expects AdHawk’s glasses to enable new research connecting eye movement to neurological and ocular health, comparing his company’s technology to smart watches, which have provided new insights around cardiovascular health.

The news of the potential takeover of AdHawk comes two years after Alphabet Inc.’s Google acquired Kitchener-based North Inc., a technology company that focused on creating smart glasses.

Meta, Apple Inc., and Google are all working to create augmented reality glasses. While Meta plans to launch its glasses in a few years, Google recently announced a public testing process for a future product. Apple is planning to launch a high-end mixed-reality headset next year, Bloomberg said.

• Email: nkarim@postmedia.com | Twitter:

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