Virtual reality company Oculus VR has purchased hand tracking technology company Nimble VR, bringing Oculus Rift a step closer to consumers.
The skeletal hand tracker will be mounted on the existing Oculus VR goggles, according to Nimble’s Kickstarter campaign. With Nimble’s depth-sensing infrared 3D cameras, users will be able to use hand movements to direct the virtual reality experience. The purchase is a significant addition for Oculus, which would have had to rely on physical controllers in the absence of hand tracking technology.
Nimble VR had already gained significant market traction prior to their acquisition. This August they were selected as a finalist in the 2014 TechCrunch Beijing Startup Competition, where they showcased their motion sensor technology. Leading up to their sale, they had more than doubled their original US$62,000 goal during their Kickstarter campaign, which was cancelled in the past 24 hours.
Oculus has not yet detailed how the Nimble VR technology will be integrated with their current goggles. So far they have said the Nimble VR technology has “the potential to be part of a great VR experience.”
However the acquisition does mean that it’s unlikely Nimble VR will continue to work on any projects other than its skeletal tracking software. Oculus stated that Nimble VR will be “winding down their existing projects to focus on VR full-time at Oculus.”
At the same time, Oculus revealed they have purchased 3D digital modelling company 13th Lab. They say the addition of 13th Lab’s real-time 3D models will “enable all sorts of new applications and experiences in VR, like visiting a one-to-one 3D model of the pyramids in Egypt, or the Roman Colosseum.”
They also announced that motion capture expert Chris Bregler would be joining Oculus full-time as a research leader. Bregler is a NYU computer science professor who has notably worked as a visual tracking specialist in the film industry, including The Lone Ranger and Star Trek Into Darkness movies.
The acquisitions are expected to get the Oculus product on the market more quickly. The complete VR goggle technology is not yet available to consumers, but Oculus have released a development kit priced at US$350.