We may have been promised this dystopic corporation-powered nightmare we inhabit, but perhaps some of the holodeck flying cars can come along as well? Facebook-owned Oculus have bought Pebbles Interfaces, an Israeli technology company who focus on detecting and tracking hand movements. Like the Kinect only, I’d hope, better. As you’ll see in the video below, the possible applications for this in combination with VR are extraordinary and solve some of the major problems facing the new medium.
The biggest issue with VR right now (besides cost and availability) is the disconnect between what your hands are doing and what your avatar does on the screen. Games like Elite can dodge around this if you’re willing to shell out the cash for a high-powered flight stick, but on a 360 controller or mouse and keyboard, you moving your thumb an inch usually translates to a far bigger action in-game. Pebbles’ tech could solve that, and looks far more precise than other commercial attempts.
Acquiring them could prove quite the coup for Oculus, if it means their headset is the only one that supports this sort of technology when everyone rolls out the big guns in coming years. There’s a hardware battle between Oculus, Sony and Valve for who’s tech will become standard and it’s debatable if there’s room for more than one in what’s sure to be a niche market, at least to begin with. Here’s what Pebbles CTO Nadav Grossinger had to say about the move:
“At Pebbles Interfaces, we’ve been focused on pushing the limits of digital sensing technology to accelerate the future of human-computer interaction. 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. We’ve always believed visual computing will be the next major platform in our lifetime, and we’re excited to join the Oculus team to achieve that vision for the future.”
Whether Pebbles’ work will replace the Oculus Touch device or be a secondary option remains to be seen. This is the second talk of exclusivity regarding Oculus in recent weeks, with the announcement that they’re fully funding the development of several exclusive titles. As for what’s available at the moment, Steve got his digi-mitts all over Loading Human last month.