Oculus buys gesture interaction co. Pebbles Interfaces

Steven Loeb · July 16, 2015 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/3ecd

Pebbles Interfaces will join the hardware engineering and computer vision teams at Oculus

Oculus, the virtual reality startup that was purchased by Facebook last year, has acquired Pebbles Interfaces, an Israeli company that develops hardware and software that facilitate 3D gesture interaction in computing and electronic devices, it was revealed in a blog post on Thursday.

No financial terms of the deal were disclosed, though it is being pegged at $60 million by the Wall Street Journal.

Pebbles developed advanced motion sensors that displayed physical objects within the digital space, at any range or angle, with no latency. Its hardware was being embedded in its partners’ smart products and devices. It's easy to see this type of technology being embedded into Oculus' own products as well.

"Based in Israel, Pebbles Interfaces has spent the past five years developing technology that uses custom optics, sensor systems and algorithms to detect and track hand movement. Over time, technology breakthroughs in sensors will unlock new human interaction methods in VR and revolutionize the way people communicate in virtual worlds," Oculus wrote.

What will happen to Pebbles going forward isn't exactly clear, though Oculus has confirmed that the team will be joining the hardware engineering and computer vision teams at Oculus in order "to help advance virtual reality, tracking, and human-computer interactions."

For Pebbles, becoming part of Oculus, and, by extension, Facebook, gives the company additional resouces to see its vision come to life.

"For the last 5 years, we’ve been focused on building a technology that extends human behavior, enabling simple and intuitive interaction with any consumer electronic device," the company wrote in apost on its homepage."

"At the same time, we’ve seen virtual reality make huge strides, changing the way people interact with one another. At the forefront of that shift is Oculus, and joining Oculus will help advance our vision building immersive experiences and revolutionizing digital human interaction."

Founded in 2010, Pebbles had raised a $450,000 seed round in 2011, followed by an $11 million round in 2013. Pebbles will be winding down their business as they integrate with Oculus, and key members of the team, including founder/CTO Nadav Grossinger, will be joining Oculus.

Since being bought by Facebook for $2 billion in March of last year, Oculus has been using that money for multiple acquisitions, now six in all.

In June of 2014 it bought Carbon Design Group, an industrial design and product engineering team most famous for designing the Xbox 360 controller, and it purchased RakNet, a networking middleware systems in the games industry, in July. 

That was followed by the acquisitions of both Nimble VR, a company that specializes in hand tracking, and 13th Lab, a developer of technology that can create 3D models from real-world objects, at the same time in December. 

Before Pebbles, its last purchase was of Surreal Vision, a computer vision teams focused on real-time 3D scene reconstruction, in May of this year.

The Oculus Rift is expected to become available sometime next year, and it will help lead a wave of virtual reality devices, helping the space burst into the mainstream. By 2020, the augmented reality and virtual reality will combine for a $150 billion business. That is up from what looks to be around $5 billion in 2016.

(Image source: oculus.com)

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