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Oculus focuses on British VR startup


Powered by article titled “Oculus focuses on British VR startup” was written by Chris Johnston, for on Wednesday 27th May 2015 10.20 UTC

A virtual reality company founded by three PhD students at Imperial College London has been bought by Facebook to combine with Oculus.

Surreal Vision specialises in real-time 3D scene reconstruction to create accurate representations of the real world and allow users to interact with real-world objects from within VR.

The company was founded by Richard Newcombe, Renato Salas-Moreno and Steven Lovegrove.

The technology being developed by Surreal Vision will lead to VR and augmented reality systems that can be used day or night and either indoors or outdoors. “They will open the door to true telepresence, where people can visit anyone, anywhere,” the founders said.

Their techniques promise a model of reality that “feels real, creating a new, mixed reality that brings together the virtual and real worlds”.

The founders say that significant challenges remain, as the accuracy and quality of the continuously updating 3D reconstruction must be almost perfect: “When we cross these seminal thresholds, users will perceive the virtual world as truly real – and that is the experience we’re driving toward.”

Newcombe, Salas-Moreno and Lovegrove will join the Oculus Research team in Redmond, Washington.

Facebook bought Oculus VR for bn in March 2014 after the company had built a solid following among game developers. The social network said it recognised that VR would have far wider applications in fields ranging from communications and entertainment to education and media.

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said at the time: “Mobile is the platform of today, and now we’re also getting ready for the platforms of tomorrow. Oculus has the chance to create the most social platform ever, and change the way we work, play and communicate.”

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg Photograph: Kristoffer Tripplaar/REX

Oculus was founded by 21-year-old college drop-out Palmer Luckey and made headlines in 2012 when the company raised more than m on the crowdfunding site Kickstarter to manufacture the Oculus Rift VR headset.

The first commercial model of Facebook’s much anticipated Oculus Rift virtual reality headset will go on sale in the first quarter of 2016, the company said earlier this month. Prices are yet to be announced.

Oculus VR’s technology is already available in the Gear VR, a smartphone-powered headset launched by Samsung and Oculus. Meanwhile, games firm Valve is making a VR headset with HTC called the Vive VR, which will launch later this year.

Sony also plans to launch its Morpheus VR headset for PlayStation 4 in the first half of next year, having recently shown off a prototype that is close to a final consumer version. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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