On Thursday, Oculus VR moved one step closer into bringing hands into the virtual reality space by acquiring Nimble VR. This is the same company that was seeking funds on Kickstarter back in October to build the Nimble VR depth sensing camera, which is optimized for the Oculus Rift. The Kickstarter campaign, now officially canceled as of Wednesday, blew through its $62,500 goal thanks to 1,076 backers pledging $135,511.
"The Nimble Sense captures a 3D point cloud across a 110 degree field of view. Combined with the world's most robust skeletal hand tracking software, the Nimble Sense delivers low-latency, accurate hand input to provide the simple experience of having both hands in VR," read the Kickstarter page.
The camera itself is about the size of a pack of gum and can be mounted on the Oculus Rift or on a desk. The device uses time-of-flight technology and can not only detect where the user's hand is located, but identify the joints of each finger. The information gathered by the sensor is provided by an API that developers can insert into their application.
The Nimble VR team was founded in 2012 by Kenrick Kin, Chris Twigg and Rob Wang. The overall team of five includes experts in computer vision/graphics and visual effects and a combined pool of experience that spans from Industrial Light And Magic R&D to Pixar. They've also earned PhDs from Carnegie Mellon, MIT and UC Berkeley.
In addition to acquiring Nimble VR, Oculus VR has also assimilated 13th Lab. According to Oculus VR, this team has been working to create a real-time 3D reconstruction framework that's accurate and efficient. "The ability to acquire accurate 3D models of the real-world can enable all sorts of new applications and experiences, like visiting a one-to-one 3D model of the pyramids in Egypt or the Roman Coliseum in VR," Oculus wrote.
Also joining the Oculus VR team is Chris Bregler, a motion capture expert who has worked on movies such as Star Trek Into Darkness and The Lone Ranger. He's also a professor of Computer Science at New York University and has previously worked on projects at Industrial Light And Magic, Disney Feature Animation, HP and more. At Oculus Research, Bregler will lead a vision research team.
"Nimble VR, 13th Lab, and Chris will all be winding down their existing projects to focus on VR full-time at Oculus as part of both product engineering and Oculus Research," Oculus VR reports.
Facebook purchased Oculus VR for $2 billion back in March. The deal included $400 million in cash and 23.1 million Facebook shares, as well as an extra $300 million earn-out in cash and stock if Oculus reaches certain milestones. Facebook has remained relatively quiet since the acquisition, allowing Oculus VR to do its thing. However, Zuckerberg made it perfectly clear that development of the Rift will focus on more than just gaming.
"Mobile is the platform of today, and now we're also getting ready for the platforms of tomorrow," said Zuckerberg back in March. "Oculus has the chance to create the most social platform ever, and change the way we work, play and communicate."