Facebook acquires Pebbles Interfaces to help track your hands in virtual reality

Facebook has acquired Pebbles Interfaces, an Israel-based startup that specialises in gesture control, in an effort to expand its virtual reality platform.

Facebook confirmed the purchase in an email to Business Insider on Thursday.

Pebbles Interfaces has been researching computer vision and depth-sensing technology for the last five years, and will be joining the Oculus virtual reality team in a $US60 million deal, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Facebook acquired Oculus for $US2 billion last year, a technology company which created the highly anticipated Oculus Rift virtual reality headset.

Pebbles’ gesture-control technology can detect the hands and skin of a user who is wearing a virtual reality headset like the Rift, according to the WSJ, enabling its users to see their hands and arms in VR using light sensoring technology. The technology can also recognise and track a user’s clothing, items in one’s hand, and scars while using a virtual reality headset in the VR display —  a feature that competing companies have yet to develop. 

“Through micro-optics and computer vision, we hope to improve the information that can be extracted from optical sensors, which will help take virtual reality to the next level,” Nadav Grossinger, CTO of Pebbles Interfaces, wrote on the Oculus blog

Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer previously said, “everyone is going to have to be a little patient” with Facebook and its futuristic VR platform roll-out. Even though the public market is currently awaiting the consumer release of the Oculus Rift, scheduled to launch in Q1 2016, Facebook is already preparing for the second and third generation versions of the headset. 

Here’s an introduction to Pebbles Interfaces’ “immersive 3D real-time hands,” which highlights the company’s advancements in gesture control.


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