Last Friday, Meta publicly announced the acquisition of Berlin-based haptics developers Lofelt. The purchase enables Meta to leverage technology that simulates user touch and feel feedback from a controller or glove.
The Lofelt purchase enables Meta to double down on its haptics research leading into the proposed October release window for the upcoming Quest device.
Lofelt’s now-discontinued product line-up includes haptic feedback bracelets and Lofelt Studio, a software development kit (SDK) that enables extended reality (XR) creators to design haptic-ready immersive experiences on real-time 3D (RT3D) engines such as Unity.
In a statement made months before Meta’s announcement of the acquisition, Lofelt explained the firm is entering a new adventure following its product discontinuation on July 7th.
The firm added:
“We have enjoyed working with you all on our first product, the Basslet, our wide-band voice coil haptic actuators, and recently building our haptic design apps across desktop and mobile platforms”
The move comes following Meta’s plans to develop haptic controllers for its upcoming XR headsets. The Menlo Park-based firm’s research and development (R&D) division, Reality Labs, is creating various haptic solutions to advance human-computer interaction, including haptic gloves and electromyography (EMG) hardware that detects muscle movements.
Fresh Acquisition Amidst FTC Crack-Down
The latest acquisition announcement comes after the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) blocked Meta’s purchase of the immersive fitness and wellness application Within in late July.
The FTC first showed concern for the $400 million purchase in 2021, with FTC’s Bureau of Competition Deputy Director John Newman explaining how Meta is buying its way to the top.
FTC’s representatives are working to convince the US District Court for the Northern District of California to block the ongoing purchase to avoid limiting XR innovation and competition in the sector.
Today, Meta agreed to pause the purchase of Within until January 1st, 2023, or until the FTC officially blocks the deal.
In a statement, a Meta spokesperson said that it was preparing to “vigorously defend this deal in court.” Also, Meta is “confident” that evidence shows the fillings negatively affect “people, developers and the VR space more broadly.”