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Apple’s new toy could help us watch sport ‘inside’ stadiums again

Apple has officially sealed a deal for the virtual reality events company NextVR, following reports a deal was close last month.

The iPhone-maker confirmed to Bloomberg the purchase had been completed for an undisclosed fee, although the deal was previously reported by 9to5Mac to be worth $100m (around £81m).

In confirming the accord, Apple repeated the oft-used statement that it ‘buys smaller companies from time to time’ and does not discuss the plans pertaining to those purchases. However, the expectation is NextVR, which specialises in providing VR footage of sporting and entertainment events, will form part of Apple’s rumoured plans to release a mixed reality headset in the near future.

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NextVR had an exclusive deal with the National Basketball Association in the United States to screen games in VR via the Oculus Rift headset, but had also covered events like wrestling and boxing. It’s also possible that Apple will use NextVR to add a new dimension to its Apple TV streaming service, which would distinguish it from competitors.

However it’s equally likely Apple has no interest in the virtual reality event streaming NextVR has traditionally offered and is acquiring the underlying technology for new purposes.

That’d be a shame though. Given none of us are actually going to be attending sporting events any time in the near-to-medium term future, virtual reality might be our only option to get inside the stadium, so to speak.

Earlier this week NextVR officially shut down, posting a statement on its website explaining it was heading in a new direction. The company wrote: “Thank you to our partners and fans around the world for the role you played in building this awesome platform for sports, music and entertainment experiences in Virtual Reality.”

Earlier this week, reports suggested Apple’s mixed reality glasses won’t be available until 2022, so it may be a while before we find out the firm’s true intentions here.