Facebook Inc.’s Oculus VR said Thursday it agreed to buy Israel-based gesture-control company Pebbles Ltd.
Oculus, the virtual-reality headset maker that Facebook bought last year, said Pebbles “will be joining the hardware engineering and computer vision teams at Oculus to help advance virtual reality, tracking, and human-computer interactions,” the company said on its blog. It didn’t disclose a price tag, but one person familiar with the matter said it was around $60 million.
A representative for Facebook wasn’t immediately available.
Pebbles has recently integrated its technology into the virtual-reality headset developed by Facebook’s Oculus VR, enabling users to interact with the device via hand and finger gestures. Unlike competing gesture-identification technologies, Pebbles’ enables users to see images of their own arms and hands in their virtual-reality display. In some other technologies, users can’t “see” their bodies, or only see generic digitally-generated versions. Pebbles’ technology can show unique features like clothing, scars or items held in one’s hand.
The Israeli company, based in Kfar-Saba, some 14 miles northeast of Tel-Aviv, employs 50 people.
Israel has spawned several 3D-sensing and gesture-control companies, including PrimeSense Ltd., the company that designed the chips that powered the first generation of Microsoft Corp.’s Kinect gesture-control and 3D-sensing capabilities. Apple Inc. bought PrimeSense in 2013. Microsoft Corp. and Intel Corp. snapped up 3DV Systems and Omek Interactive Ltd., respectively. Both were Israeli start-ups in the field.
Israeli financial newspaper Calcalist previously reported the deal.