Oculus snaps up Nimble, 13th Lab and Chris Bregler

12 Dec 2014

Oculus Rift. Image via Oculus.com

Oculus VR, the company behind some of the coolest virtual-reality kit around, has just bought Nimble VR and 13th Lab, and hired motion-capture expert Chris Bregler.

The acquisition of Nimble VR, in particular, could see Oculus’ Rift virtual reality headset improve significantly.

The Rift’s virtual reality capacity has one clear let down: its hand capabilities are non-existent. Step forward Nimble VR, a start-up that recently raised double its US$62,500 Kickstarter fund (which was cancelled when this deal was announced).

Nimble’s skeletal detection camera, which can be strapped onto the Rift already – clearly a targeted product from a clever start-up – immediately allows for hand movements in the virtual-reality world you’ve chosen to dive into.

Nimble’s work started with colour gloves, evolved into markerless tracking with multiple Kinect cameras, and eventually led to the development of the Nimble Sense, that could be mounted on an Oculus Rift.

“Today, we’re happy to share that we’ll be joining forces with Oculus, a team that is creating an entirely new medium, platform and industry. We’re excited not only to continue to push at the boundaries of input and user experience in VR, but to do so with the resources and means to make a bigger impact on a larger audience,” said Nimble.

Meanwhile, the acquisition of 13th Lab adds another layer to Oculus’ growing virtual-reality capabilities. 13th Lab’s mapping technology is pretty excellent, with its Slam technology originally used for US space agency NASA robots. It creates maps for unknown environments, while also having the capacity to detect and track a 2D image and map it within Slam.

Finally, Bregler – who has worked on the visual tracing of movies The Lone Ranger and Star Trek Into Darkness – has also joined Oculus.

After some pretty straightforward acquisitions, Oculus VR may have revolutionised the entire virtual-reality experience. Now it’s just a case of waiting for a consumer product incorporating all three companies’ expertise.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic