Oculus today announced that they’ve acquired Surreal Vision, a computer vision company that’s using technology to interpret the real world in a way that can be visualized and interacted with within virtual reality.

Surreal Vision is a UK company that was founded by three Computer Vision PhDs from Imperial College London: Richard Newcombe, Renato Salas-Moreno, and Steven Lovegrove.

The founders alone have their hands in some pretty enticing computer vision tech. Oculus notes in their official blog post about the acquisition that Newcombe is the inventor of KinectFusion among others, while Salas-Moreno is the inventor of SLAM++, and Lovegrove the co-inventor of DTAM and author of SplineFusion.

While all of the founder’s work is interesting, SLAM++ is the coolest in my book. Using input from a single depth camera, SLAM++ tracks its own position while mapping the environment, and does so while recognizing discrete objects like chairs and tables as being separate from themselves and other geometry like the floor and walls.

Such a system could open the door to quickly scanning a real-world environment then dropping it into virtual reality such that the objects scanned in the scene are instantly interactive (like being able to walk over and pick up a can of Coke or a basketball that was present in the scan).

A bit from the Surreal Vision team regarding the announcement:

Over the past three decades, a great deal of work in computer vision has attempted to mimic human-class perceptual capabilities using color and depth cameras.

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.

The Surreal Vision team are joining the company as part of Oculus Research in Redmond, Washington. Oculus did not specify the cost of the acquisition.

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The Surreal Vision acquisition appears to be complementary to that of last year’s Nimble VR grab, a company which was developing a depth camera and computer-vision based hand tracking systems for virtual reality. So far Oculus has not said what they’d do with that hand-tracking tech; much of the developer community is still waiting for the company to announce how they will handle input for their consumer Rift headset.

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  • davo01

    All this investment and their going to dish us up a worthless 1200p headset

  • Curtrock

    The only thing here that is worthless, is your assessment of the Rift, and it’s merit. Troll.

    • davo01

      Enjoy your DK3 buddy

  • Gabriel

    Interesting news.
    There is something strange with Oculus team, i follow them from begining and now they have a big and great team and realy big big founds, so they have almost everything, the strange thing is why they move so slow with the rift development and not so satisfied performance after already few years and with all this? Also there is few teams with much more less peoples and founds who develop vr hmd and almost is above rift… dont get it… :) (Sry for my english)

    • sibbo

      Oculus have not been keen to get it out the door until they know that they have reached the benchmark in presence to not damage VRs image by delivering something that makes people ill, as the DK1 did (including me). Many other companies have ideas and innovations that will add wind to the sails of VR, but getting a product out to a mass market with the power to make or break a whole market is another thing and it takes time to get it right. Oculus are building the bandwagon, not jumping on it!
      This recent acquisition demonstrates they are looking at 2 or 3 generations of VR down the line. I doubt if anything related to this will make it in CV1, we’ll know more in a few weeks.

      • Gabriel

        I realy think now we have great tehnology to make very good and performanced VR. We dont need 4k to make great vr hmd, is a wrong idea, the solution is in lens and size of displays and also in ppi, but not in 4k resolution (need more powerful pc for run it), so 2k with high ppi i think is very ok for great vr experience…
        Oculus have more then 300 peoples in team, more of them is very smart and experienced, but why nothing new comes from they? yet.. for me is still strange :)

  • dashmaul

    Oculus has always said to hold off with the release of CV1 untill it’s as good as it can get.
    Other companies may have been boasting with their (superior) tech, but have shown mostly nothing. Besides Valve, but they have said to release the Vive as a higher end product, in a premium pricerange