Starbreeze AB announced that it has acquired a French company called ePawn that owns a number of patents involving NFC (Near Field Communication) tracking technologies, which Starbreeze plans to put to use with its various projects, including a game called Geminose that interfaces with toys similar to Skylanders, and a room-scale tracking system that can be embedded into any kind of flooring.
Starbreeze purchased ePawn for 4M Euros (approximately $4.46 million USD) in Starbreeze shares and 1.5M Euros in cash. In the deal, Starbreeze gains seven patents involving NFC technologies. EPawn’s nine employees will join the Starbreeze team in France (formerly InfinitEye), and they will aid in developing the company’s VR technology. Emmanuel Marquez, Starbreeze AB’s CTO, noted that ePawn CTO Valentine Lefevre will be leading AR technology development for Starbreeze properties.
EPawn’s technology is designed for “toys to life” games, which are physical toys that interface with software. EPawn’s technology is able to track the “position, orientation and altitude” down to the “millimeter level” of up to 40 NFC tags at once. The company has also adapted the tech for room-scale use. EPawn has created a “sensor carpet” that will track you while you move above it while wearing an “off-the-shelf NFC tag.”
The current sensor carpet prototype is 3x1 meters, but the technology can be built into modular tile systems that can equip large spaces with tracking. Marquez said that the sensors can actually be embedded into anything, including concrete. ePawn’s technology will give StarVR the opportunity to have its own proprietary room-scale tracking system.
Starbreeze has been making some big moves to position itself as a leader in the VR industry. The company acquired InfinitEye and its HMD from StarVR last year, early this year the company joined the Immersive Technology Alliance, and most recently, Starbreeze partnered with Acer to form a joint company that will manufacture the StarVR HMD.