Facebook Buys Israel’s Pebbles for Reported $60m

Pebbles’ technology uses sensors and algorithms to track hand movements, letting users' limbs enter virtual reality.

Pebbles

Facebook has bought another Israeli startup, this time a maker of computer-vision technology called Pebbles Interfaces.

Neither side said how much Facebook paid for the company, but reports put the figure at $60 million. Facebook made the acquisition through its Oculus VR virtual reality division, which it acquired only a year ago for $2 billion and since bought six startups.

“We’re excited to announce that we’ve entered into an agreement to acquire Pebbles Interfaces – one of the leading teams in depth-sensing technology and computer vision,” Oculus said in a blog.

Pebbles’ technology uses custom optics, sensor systems and algorithms to detect and track hand movement. Most importantly, it lets users see their own hands and fingers in their field of virtual reality, which enhances the experiences and promises many more applications for virtual reality platforms.

The Pebbles team will join the hardware engineering and computer vision teams and its interface incorporated into the Oculus Rift headset.

Pebbles, based in Kfar Saba, was founded in 2010 by Nadav Grossinger, its chief technology officer. Its CEO is Emil Alon and its development manager Doron Levit.

Over its five years the company, which employs about 50 people, raised a modest $20 million, but it counts a wide assortment of global investors, including Chinese electronics company Xiomi; Israeli venture capital fund Giza; Sandisk, the U.S. maker of flash memory drives; Germany’s Robert Bosch Venture Capital; and Hong Kong’s iNetworks 360.

Facebook has bought a string of Israel startups and since 2013 has been operating an Israeli research and development center.