Earlier this week, the virtual reality (VR) startup turned Facebook subsidiary, acquired the Surreal Vision. No terms or figures for the acquisition were released. Surreal Vision has, to-date, focused on computer vision and what an Oculus blog post described as “real-time 3D scene reconstruction.”1 This acquisition is interesting for several reasons, but the fact that Surreal Vision operates more in the augmented reality (AR) space than the VR space could be a signal of things to come.
Up until this acquisition, Oculus has maintained that the focus was 100% VR. However, Surreal Vision has built a technology platform that is more of the AR flavor. In a nutshell, Surreal Vision’s technology allows users to build and interact with VR models of real-world locations. The company’s technology uses cameras to map out rooms and other physical spaces. Surreal Vision then utilizes flat spaces within said rooms or locations, making surfaces and other areas interactive. Here is a more technical breakdown from the Surreal Vision Team (emphasis added):
At Surreal Vision, we are overhauling state-of-the-art 3D scene reconstruction algorithms to provide a rich, up-to-date model of everything in the environment including people and their interactions with each other. We’re developing breakthrough techniques to capture, interpret, manage, analyse, and finally reproject in real-time a model of reality back to the user in a way that feels real, creating a new, mixed reality that brings together the virtual and real worlds.
Ultimately, these technologies will lead to VR and AR systems that can be used in any condition, day or night, indoors or outdoors. They will open the door to true telepresence, where people can visit anyone, anywhere.2
Here is a video of an early prototype of Surreal Visions technology:
It is entirely too early to tell if this move signals a shift towards a more AR inclusive spin on Oculus. This acquisition could be just as easily explained as a talent grab. Only time will tell.