Oculus VR acquires Surreal Vision for AR/VR blend

May 27, 2015 | 11:42

Tags: #ar #augmented-reality #palmer-luckey #total-recall #vr

Companies: #facebook #kickstarter #oculus-rift #oculus-vr

Oculus VR, the company behind the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, has shown it is making the most of Facebook's deep pockets by acquiring a company specialising in 3D scene reconstruction.

Having enjoyed considerable success through traditional venture capital funding and crowd-funding on Kickstarter, Oculus VR was acquired by social networking giant Facebook for $2 billion in March last year. While some of those who had financially supported the company as it launched its first product, the Oculus Rift Developer Kit headset, felt slighted by founder Palmer Luckey's 'sell-out' move, others saw the potential for the company to use the cash to push the technology to its limits.

Oculus VR has now announced where a big chunk of Facebook's cash is going: the acquisition of Surreal Vision, a company which specialises in recreating real-world objects and environments as 3D models. 'We are overhauling state-of-the-art 3D scene reconstruction algorithms to provide a rich, up-to-date model of everything in the environment including people and their interactions with each other,' explained co-founder Richard Newcombe of his company's goals. 'We’re developing breakthrough techniques to capture, interpret, manage, analyse, and finally reproject in real-time a model of reality back to the user in a way that feels real, creating a new, mixed reality that brings together the virtual and real worlds.'

While admitting that 'significant challenges remain' in the company's work, Newcombe's vision could lead to a future headset containing both Oculus Rift display and tracking and Kinect-like depth-sensing camera technology capable of recreating your surroundings in real-time and displaying them as a virtual world - a combination of augmented reality and virtual reality which would not require translucent lenses nor restrict the virtual world to the confines of real-world geometry or physics.

The announcement comes as Forbes reports that Palmer Luckey is being sued for fraud over claims he stole confidential information from former employer Total Recall while working to build a prototype virtual reality headset. Oculus VR has described the case as 'meritless' and said it will 'vigorously defend' the charges.
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