Facebook's Oculus Picks Up VR Hand-Tracking Firm Pebbles

By Gerald Lynch on at

"Presence" is a term that virtual reality leader Oculus often uses in reference to the experience of wearing its Rift headset, that sense of feeling genuinely present in a digital world. As evidenced by its recent unveiling of Oculus Touch, nothing adds to a sense of presence than being able to use your hands to interact in a VR environment. And so Oculus is doubling down on its mastery of the space, using the financial clout of its owners Facebook to make the $60m purchase of hand-tracking experts Pebbles Interfaces.

Related: Oculus Touch Hands-On: So Damn Good

Not to be confused with smartwatch makers Pebble, Pebbles Interfaces has half a decade's worth of experience developing sensor systems, algorithms and optics specifically focussed on tracking hand movements. Joining the Oculus hardware division no doubt to improve Oculus Touch ahead of the consumer production launch, Pebbles Interfaces will “help advance virtual reality, tracking, and human-computer interactions”, according to a statement.

It's an important acquisition by Oculus. I recently tried Sony's Morpheus VR headset, and was blown away by the accuracy of its hand-tracking when using Move controllers. It can't be underestimated how much of a difference it makes to engaging with a VR world. Our own Sean Hollister sang the praises of Oculus Touch during a recent preview test however and, if Pebbles can improve upon that solid base, it's going to be very exciting to see the level of intricacy future VR input devices offer. [Oculus]