Sony has purchased 28 patents for IPIX, a camera technology that captures wraparound images, which show rooms from all angles.
The patents were acquired last month for $3.6 million at an auction after IPIX, a Reston, VA-, based company, filed for bankruptcy. Sony, who beat three competitors as an anonymous bidder, paid $1.4 million more than its original offer.
The technology has gotten some high-profile use. When President Bush gave his 2003 State of the Union address, IPIX captured the room with a panoramic image for online viewers.
Sony has not revealed how it plans to use the patents, which gained attention by providing video surveillance for such high-profile venues as Windsor Castle and the British Parliament. Clara Conti, the former CEO of IPIX, told the Washington Post that Sony has the financial resources necessary to take the patents to the next level.
Founded in 1986 in an Oak Ridge, TN, research lab, IPIX grew rapidly in the 1990s with the popularity of virtual tours, mainly for real estate companies and tourist attractions. In 1999, as the technology bubble peaked, it raised $69 million in a public offering. After that the company went through years of losing money, eventually leading to the bankruptcy.