AMD Buys Wireless VR Firm Nitero

The processor and graphics card maker now wants to get in on the virtual reality scene.

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In a move that is surprising, but not so much so, AMD has expanded beyond graphics cards and processors to virtual and augmented reality tech by purchasing wireless VR company Nitero for an undisclosed sum.

The move, which brings Nitero's IP and key engineering talent into the AMD fold, is meant to expand AMD's technology base into the virtual reality sector. It has already been building processors and GPUs capable of handling the current run of VR headsets from Oculus and HTC, but now wireless VR is its next technology hurdle.

“Unwieldly headset cables remain a significant barrier to drive widespread adoption of VR,” AMD's Chief Techology Officer Mark Papermaster said in a statement announcing the acquisition. “Our newly acquired wireless VR technology is focused on solving this challenge.”

The move makes sense for AMD, given its tech prowess, but could also be seen as a move to keep up with rival Intel, which is creating its own wireless VR headset.

Nitero made waves at last year's CES when it first showed off its 60 GHz wireless chip. What helped it stand out aside from the lack of wires, was the low latency, which is crucial to maintain immersion and combat motion-induced nausea. The company had initially had issues with the unit's "line of sight" if the headset got out of range, but later fixed the problem with “customized beam forming” that will find the user. It was hoping for a release of the chip sometime last year, but it had been delayed. The purchase by AMD now adds extra technological clout to other issues that may have caused release delays.

Valve should profit from the acquisition, as it had invested as "significant amount" of capital in Nitero last year, looking for a wireless solution for SteamVR.

2017 is shaping up to be a promising year for wireless VR tech. In addition to Nitero's work, TPCast is working on a wireless kit it revealed for the HTC Vive late last year, and Quark VR, another Valve partner, has also been developing a wireless HTC Vive prototype.

Contributing Editor
From The Chatty