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 startup, which had reportedly raised $21.6 million in funding, didn’t disclose a price.
Google confirmed the deal with Eyefluence in an e-mailed 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 startup 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 startup that is also purportedly working on eye interaction technology.