Facebook buys British start-up Surreal Vision

Facebook has bought an eight-month-old British start-up that recreates real-world scenarios in virtual reality, reports The Telegraph.

Surreal Vision, which started life at Imperial College London, has been snapped up by Oculus VR, the company behind the Oculus Rift headset that was bought by Mark Zuckerberg’s social network for $2bn (£1.3bn) last year.

Surreal Vision has developed technology that allows users to interact in a computerised version of the real world. It aims to make this version is so real that it is impossible to distinguish between the two.

This could allow people to hold business meetings as if they are in the same room when in fact they are located in different countries – a process known as “telepresence”.

Surreal Vision’s founders – Richard Newcombe, Renato Salas-Moreno, and Steven Lovegrove – will all join Oculus, in Redmond, Washington state.

“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,” Surreal Vision said in a blog post.

“These technologies will lead to virtual reality … 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.”

“Much progress has been made toward this future, but significant challenges remain. For virtual reality, the accuracy and quality of the continuously updating 3D reconstruction must be near flawless, which is a requirement almost no other modern computer vision problem faces. When we cross these seminal thresholds, users will perceive the virtual world as truly real – and that is the experience we’re driving toward.”

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.