AMD purchases Valve-backed wireless virtual reality company Nitero

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AMD has acquired Nitero, a company focused on removing tethered wires from virtual reality and augmented reality headsets. Valve, the creator of Steam and co-creator of the HTC Vive headset, invested a “significant amount” in the company prior to this acquisition.

Now, however, PC hardware manufacturer AMD has purchased Nitero for an undisclosed amount of money. Nitero is one of many companies working in the high-end virtual reality space, with the goal of developing technology that allows VR headsets to go completely wireless. Given Valve’s lack of history in the venture capital space, Nitero must be working on something very unique to capture the gaming company’s interest.

“Our world class engineering team has been focused on solving the difficult problem of building wireless VR technologies that can be integrated into next-generation headsets,” said Nitero co-founder and CEO Pat Kelly, who is also set to join AMD as the company’s corporate vice president of Wireless IP. “We are excited to play a role in furthering AMD’s long-term technology vision.”

Nitero’s chips transmit wireless signal over the 60GHz spectrum, which creates difficulties because this form of connectivity doesn’t move through objects easily and typically requires a clear line-of-sight. The company, however, is working on beam-forming techniques that reduce the interference and maintain connection when an object is in the way of the signal. AMD’s acquisition announcement highlights this particular aspect of Nitero’s work significantly.

“Nitero has designed a phased-array beamforming millimetre wave chip to address the challenges facing wireless VR and AR. Using high-performance 60 GHz wireless, this technology has the potential to enable multi-gigabit transmit performance with low latency in room-scale VR environments. The beamforming characteristics solve the requirement for line-of-sight associated with traditional high-frequency mm-wave systems, potentially eliminating wired VR headsets and enabling users to become more easily immersed in virtual and augmented worlds.”

AMD moving into chips is a significant shift for the company, which historically has focused on GPU and CPU development.

Source: AMD