Facebook-owned Oculus VR has announced the $60 million acquisition of Pebbles Interfaces, an Israel-based firm that specializes in depth sensing technology and computer vision for the purpose of hand tracking.
Pebbles Interfaces has spent the past five years developing technology that uses custom optics, sensor systems and algorithms to detect and track hand movement. The company will be joining the hardware engineering and computer vision teams at Oculus to help advance virtual reality, tracking, and human-computer interactions. Pebbles’ hardware also saw previous partnerships with smartphone manufacturers such as China-based handset manufacturer Xiaomi.
In a separate announcement, Pebbles Interfaces explains why it agreed to join Oculus, saying that the company is at the forefront of the shift virtual reality has made in recent times, and that it will help “advance our vision [of] building immersive experiences and revolutionizing digital human interaction.”
This is the second time Oculus has purchased a hand-tracking company; in December 2014, Oculus purchased Nimble VR, which makes cameras and software that tracks user movements and translates them into the virtual world instantaneously.
Oculus, which was acquired by Facebook for $2 billion last year, will launch its Oculus Rift virtual reality headset in 2016. The device immerses users in a virtual world, but having to use console-style controllers to interact with surroundings is said to reduce the feeling of immersion. Oculus will likely be hoping Pebbles’ acquired technology will eventually eliminate, or at least reduce, the need to use controllers with the Rift.
You can see a demo of Pebbles Interfaces’ 3-D real-time hands technology in the video below.