3D Printing

Acquisitions Push Facebook-Owned Oculus to 3D Printing's Edge

Yesterday, according to The Verge, Oculus VR announced the acquisition of two companies and the addition of a new team member that indicate the company’s expansion into 3D modeling technology.  Not to produce further 3D printing hype, but the Reality Computing (Andrew Wheeler/Autodesk’s term) space is continuing to collide with our own field of 3DP and I do believe that it’s only a matter of time before we’ll be covering companies like Oculus, Google, Samsung, and Apple on a regular basis.  As preliminary as this may be to mention on 3DPI: Oculus VR has purchased 3D modeling and movement-tracking firm 13th Lab and hand-tracking start-up Nimble VR.

Using smartphones as their platform, 13th Lab has been developing software for reconstructing the real world as 3D models and combining it with augmented reality applications, such as hybrid world video first-person shooters and AR drawing in mid air. The Oculus press release describes how 13th Lab will complement their own work, “The ability to acquire accurate 3D models of the real-world can enable all sorts of new applications and experiences, like visiting a one-to-one 3D model of the pyramids in Egypt or the Roman Colosseum in VR.”

Nimble VR’s low-latency hand tracking combines with 13th Lab’s 3D modeling tech to open up AR/VR 3D modeling, which can easily be broadened into 3D printing technology. The company also hired Chris Bregler, a former employee of HP, Disney Feature Animation, and LucasFilm’s Industrial Light and Magic. As a computer scientist responsible for Industrial Light and Magic’s technology for tracking 2D textures on film, Bregler will be heading up Oculus’s vision research team.

As we’ve seen with companies like Paracosm, Occipital, and, most importantly, HP, real world mapping (scanning) bridges the gap between virtual reality and 3D printing by importing physical objects into the digital world for modeling and digital objects into the physical world with 3D printing. Both Paracosm (to be integrated into Google’s Project Tango smartphones and tablets) and Occipital (makers of the Structure/iSense 3D scanner) envision a world in which users will be able to scan their environments for planning interior decorating and 3D printing copies of physical objects. HP’s Sprout computing system fully combines 3D scanning and 3D printing, featuring a 3D scanner and touchscreen interface for 3D modeling objects, before sending them to the company’s Multi Jet Fusion 3D printing system.

Witnessing the transformation of the 3D printing industry into Andrew/Autodesk’s Reality Computing industry, it also seems inevitable that Apple will be joining this Reality Computing future. After acquiring PrimeSense (inventors of the Kinect 3D scanning/mapping tool), Apple received their patent for the PrimeSense “lens array projector”, the tech behind the Kinect’s motion tracking ability.

Facebook acquired Oculus VR for $2 billion in March, which means that it’s only a matter of time before we have to write about Facebook on 3DPI 🙁