Facebook, in a move to enhance its virtual reality platform, acquired Pebbles Interfaces, a gesture control specialist located in Israel. Though the financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed, The Wall Street Journal noted that Pebbles and Oculus VR previously signed a $60 million deal. Facebook acquired Oculus, the technology company famous for introducing the Oculus Rift Virtual Headset, for $2 billion last year.
Oculus VR + Pebbles= a good fit for Facebook
Pebbles’ technology combined with Facebook’s Oculus VR unit will enable users to interact with their devices using hand and finger gestures. Pebbles has an advantage over rivals as it enables users to visualize their own arms and hands in their virtual-reality display. In a blog post, Oculus says Pebbles will work with its hardware engineering and computer vision teams to improve “virtual reality, tracking, and human-computer interactions.”
“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,” said Pebbles Interfaces CTO Nadav Grossinger on the Oculus blog.
Users are anxiously waiting for the official release of the first-generation Oculus Rift, which is due in the first quarter of 2016. Previously, Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer said users will have to wait patiently for Facebook’s VR platform. Work on the second- and third-generation versions is already in progress.
Oculus VR and Pebbles, better than rivals
Pebbles Interface is an Israeli company is based in Kfar-Saba 14 miles northeast of Tel-Aviv. The company has 50 employees. Pebbles specializes in gesture-control technology, which helps in detecting the hands and the skins of users wearing a virtual-reality headset. Additionally, the user’s clothing, items in their hand and scars can also detected, says a report from The Wall Street Journal. The Israeli firm has experience in the research process of computer-vision and depth-sensing technology.
Israel has been home to many 3D-sensing and gesture companies. PrimeSense was the backbone of Microsoft’s first Kinect gesture and 3D-sensing device. Apple acquired the company in 2013. Israel start-ups 3DV Systems and Omek Interactive were bought by Microsoft and Intel respectively.
On Thursday, Facebook shares closed up 1.21% at $90.85, and year to date, the stock is up by almost 15% while in the past 12-months, shares are up 37%.