Facebook-owned virtual reality (VR) startup Oculus has confirmed that it’s acquiring Pebbles Interfaces, a computer vision and depth-sensing technology company based in Israel.
Founded in 2010, Pebbles Interfaces develops advanced motion sensors that recreate physical objects within the digital realm, irrespective of the angle or range. It also claims to have no latency, which would be a major boost for Oculus and its virtual reality (VR) headset, expected to launch to the public in 2016.
Pebbles Interfaces has built technology that uses “custom optics, sensor systems and algorithms” to monitor hand-movement, Oculus explained in a blog post. “Over time, technology breakthroughs in sensors will unlock new human interaction methods in VR and revolutionize the way people communicate in virtual worlds.”
You can see an interesting demo of Pebbles Interfaces technology in this video.
Following a $450,000 seed round raised in 2011, Pebbles Interfaces closed a chunky $11 million round in 2013, which included big-name investors such as SanDisk.
In a separate announcement, Pebbles Interfaces explains why it agreed to join Oculus / Facebook, saying that Oculus 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.”
The full statement reads:
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.
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 [of] building immersive experiences and revolutionizing digital human interaction.
Thank you to our partners, employees and investors for your support as we’ve grown. We’re looking forward to starting our next chapter as we join the team at Oculus!
String of acquisitions
Facebook acquired Oculus for $2 billion in March 2014, and the money has been put to good use in the 16 months since. In June 2014, Oculus acquired Carbon Design Group, a Seattle-based company that helped Microsoft design the Xbox 360 controller, Kinect motion-sensing camera, and other hardware. Two weeks later, Oculus acquired game-networking engine RakNet and swiftly made it open source.
Pebbles Interfaces marks the sixth acquisition Oculus has made since it was bought by Facebook. Similar to the five previous deals, no price has officially been revealed; however, the Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook / Oculus is paying in the region of $60 million, citing “people familiar with the matter.”