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Sony Acquires Hand and Finger Recognition Company SoftKinetic

Back in March 2015 VRFocus reported on the news that SoftKinectic Systems, a 3D vision and gesture company, is working on hand and finger recognition technology for use with virtual reality (VR) head-mounted displays (HMDs). Essentially the tech allows players to bring their hands into VR as seen with other systems such as Leap Motion. The company had even become a part of the Open-Source Virtual Reality (OSVR) ecosystem. Today, however, it’s been revealed that Sony, has purchased SoftKinetic Systems.

Project Morpheus

This means that the company’s time-of-flight (ToF) range image sensor technology is now wholly-owned by Sony. ToF refers to working out the distance between an object, using distance measurement pixels that are laid on top of the company’s sensor. These measure the time it takes light to leave a light source, reflect off of an object and return to the image sensor, the data from which is then used to calculate that distance. Sony will work with the company to improve the next generation of these sensors as well as developer broader applications for it.

This is of course significant to the VR industry as Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE) is working on the PlayStation VR HMD for PlayStation 4. In fact earlier this week VRFocus reported on the reveal of 2 new patents from the company that suggested it was looking at new input solutions for the device outside of the PlayStation Move motion controller and DualShock 4. Could this acquisition mean that Playstation VR could get hand-tracking capabilities somewhere down the line?

SoftKinetic Systems is also working on a social VR experience for its tech. Could this also now play a part in the HMD?

PlayStation VR itself is expected to launch in the first half of 2016, though a full release date and price are yet to be announced. VRFocus will continue to follow the kit closely, reporting back with any further updates on it.