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Why Facebook is buying a gesture control company

A Tour Of The Hardware Lab At Facebook Headquarters As Company Attracts Oculus With Hardware ExpertiseA Tour Of The Hardware Lab At Facebook Headquarters As Company Attracts Oculus With Hardware Expertise
A Facebook employee tests servers at the company's hardware labs in Menlo Park, California, on April 7, 2014. Photograph by David Paul Morris — Bloomberg via Getty Images

Facebook’s Oculus VR snapped up gesture-control company Pebbles in a move to better integrate human movement with computer systems.

The terms of the deal, which was made public Thursday, weren’t released by Facebook, but one source told the Wall Street Journal that the total sum was around $60 million.

Pebbles will become part of the hardware engineering and computer vision teams at Oculus, where the company will be put to work finding new ways to advance virtual reality using more realistic tracking—one of Pebbles’ specialties.


The Israel-based startup’s technology enables users to see images of their arms and hands within VR headsets, including Oculus VR after Pebbles recently integrated its technology within the platform. That’s a huge step for making VR more realistic and unlocking its future potential. Up until now, competing gesture-identification technologies either didn’t show a user’s arms or hands at all or used generic digitally-generated versions.

“We’ve seen virtual reality make huge strides, changing the way people interact with one another,” said Pebbles in a written statement. “At the forefront of that shift is Oculus, and joining Oculus will help advance our vision building immersive experiences and revolutionizing digital human interaction.”

The purchase brings Facebook (FB) up to speed with Apple (AAPL), Microsoft (MSFT) and Intel (INTC), all of who purchased gesture-control startups within the past several years.