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September 6, 2016

Snapchat joins Bluetooth consortium, fuels AR headset rumours

Acquisitions and staff hiring adds to the evidence.

By James Nunns

The virtual reality or augmented reality market could be about to get a new participant in the shape of Snapchat.

Snapchat, a popular messaging app, has joined the industry group that runs the Bluetooth wireless standard. This may not seem like a big move, but any company building a device with Bluetooth connections must be part of it.

Snapchat does not currently have any Bluetooth functionality so it can be assumed that it is working on something in this area for it to have become a member.

This is not the only piece of evidence to suggest that a VR or AR move is on the cards for the company. In June it acquired VR start-up Seene, and in July it hired Raffael Dickreuter, a visual effects specialist from Hollywood. It has also hired people from GoPro and Nest.

Snapchat has also already made a slight foray into the area with filters or “lenses”, which allow a user to add animations to their selfies, a kind of augmented reality addition to the app.

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group, which the messaging service has joined, shows that the company has registered for a unique “company identifier”, which is a unique number assigned by Bluetooth SIG members, it acts like a domain name for a website, reports the FT.

This move into VR may have been on the cards for a while for Snapchat based on another of its acquisitions. In 2014 it acquired Vergence Labs, a start-up that was developing  a camera headset similar to Google Glass.

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Snapchat reports to have 150 million daily users and a move into VR could be what it feels will bring in even more.

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