Oculus VR ventures into AR with new acquisition
Oculus VR is ready to jump into the field of augmented reality with its latest company acquisition – Surreal Vision. An augmented reality tech startup based in the United Kingdom, Surreal Vision focuses its efforts in real-time 3D scene reconstruction for augmented reality (AR). Thanks to this company buyout, Oculus VR is positioning itself into the AR competition, where upcoming projects include Microsoft’s HoloLens and Google’s Project Tango are making themselves known and prominent. Surreal Vision has already been working on software that can deliver augmented reality into virtual reality – it’s called mixed reality, a kind of user interaction with real objects in a virtual setting.
According to Oculus VR’s company blog post, it states that “great scene reconstruction will enable a new level of presence and telepresence, allowing you to move around the real world and interact with real-world objects from within VR.” By effectively generating an accurate entity with precise details of the real, physical world, Surreal Vision’s technology will enable Oculus to superimpose the real environment with the virtual content rendered using Oculus VR’s proprietary head-mounted display, the Oculus Rift.
Surreal Vision’s team is primarily composed of three founders, each holding a PhD from Imperial College London. They are Richard Newcombe, Renato Salas-Moreno, and Steven Lovegrove. Newcombe is an inventor and collaborator of some VR-related projects such as KinectFusion, DynamicFusion, and DTAM (Dense Tracking and Mapping). Salas-Moreno is an inventor of the Dense Planar SLAM (Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping). Newcombe and Salas-Moreno are also co-inventors of SLAM++ (Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping at the Level of Objects), a project for checking software’s properties of its own interfaces. Lovegrove is the co-inventor of DTAM and author of SplineFusion.
The group of three at Surreal Vision will be incorporated to Oculus Research, a research arm of Oculus VR that focuses on working with university researchers in developing primary algorithms and refining existing technologies to fit future VR applications. Oculus Research is based in Seattle, Washington, where the three key individuals from Surreal Vision will be based in order to continue their work.
By adding augmented reality into Oculus’ future prospects, the VR company is set to enhance telepresence using the Rift. Some telepresence projects on the rise include the DORA Platform, which uses the Oculus Rift to control robots in a remote setting. Also, gaming will be enhanced thanks to incorporation of AR into VR. By mapping physical environments and reconstructing them in a virtual setting, physical objects such as tables or desks can be used as objects of focus in certain games, like in a war simulation game where hiding under a table can be considered protection against your opponent. Oculus’ latest company acquisition is a step forward towards these kind of VR interactions, and sets a bright vision for the future of mixed reality.