Google acquires eye-tracking company for virtual reality effort


San Francisco: Google just picked up a key piece of technology that might move its virtual reality ambitions closer to the masses.

Eyefluence, which is working to enable eye movements to control digital screens, wrote in a blog post on Monday that it’s joining the search giant Alphabet Inc. The three-year-old start-up, which had reportedly raised $21.6 million in funding, didn’t disclose a price.

Google confirmed the deal with Eyefluence in an emailed statement.

Jim Marggraff, the creator of the pioneering LeapPad tablet computer, started Eyefluence after buying up assets from neurological research firm Eye-Com. He pledged that the start-up would allow people to manipulate objects and digital screens with their eye movements.

Functional eye-tracking is a widely desired feature in virtual reality and augmented reality, which lets digital images interact with the physical world. Eye-tracking tech would curb some of the latency and accessibility issues that keep the nascent media to a niche fan base.

Google has invested heavily in VR, launching tailored software and introducing its own mobile headset earlier this month. Google has also invested directly in Magic Leap, a start-up that is also purportedly working on eye interaction technology.