Cork start-up InfiniLED acquired by Oculus to power the future of VR

13 Oct 2016

Cork start-up InfiniLED has created technology that can reduce the power used by VR devices by between 20pc to 40pc. Image: Vector Fusion Art/Shutterstock

Tyndall spin-out InfiniLED has been acquired by Facebook-owned Oculus, which plans to use the Irish company’s technology to enhance the performance of virtual reality devices.

Eagle-eyed sources in Cork first noticed something was amiss when the door sign for InfiniLED was changed to Oculus in recent days.

Oculus is a virtual reality (VR) powerhouse created by Palmer Luckey, Brendan Iribe, Michael Antonov, Nate Mitchell and Jack McCauley in 2012.

The company was acquired by Facebook in 2014 for $2bn in cash and stock.

InfiniLED itself is an Enterprise Ireland-supported spin-out from Tyndall National Institute and University College Cork. It develops a range of LED light-source modules based on its patented µLED (microLED) technology, which it has licensed from Tyndall.

Investors in the company include Enterprise Ireland and IL Investment Group from Quebec in Canada.

The terms of the acquisition were not disclosed but it is understood that the entire team of under 20 InfiniLED employees and CEO Joe O’Keeffe are now employees of Oculus Research.

It is also understood that the US company is now recruiting in Cork, in a move that may double the size of the operation in the city.

Invented in Cork

Established in 2010 and based on a breakthrough by Tyndall researcher Brian Corbett, a previous Intel Researcher of the Year, the key to InfiniLED’s technology is its ability to create low-power LEDs.

Oculus, which released its Oculus Rift headset to the public this year, is keen to apply InfiniLED’s technology because it uses 20-40 times less power than existing LED or OLED displays.

In 2015, Oculus acquired Surreal Vision, a British start-up focusing on 3D reconstruction and mixed reality, stating that it could be possible for Oculus to develop products with the concept of telepresence.

It also partnered with Samsung to create the Samsung Gear VR headset.

It is quite likely that advances in the realm of VR in the years ahead will be powered on by a breakthrough discovery in Cork.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years