For Precise Hand Tracking in Virtual Reality, Start With a Magnetic Field

A pink triangle represents Ommo's magnetic field between two glove-wearing hands
Photo: Tekla Perry

“We can see the digital world in 3D—so why are we flipping Pokéballs on a phone screen?”

That’s how Minjie Zheng kicked off the unveiling of his startup, Ommo. The startup is introducing what it says is a millimeter-resolution 360-degree gesture tracking technology for virtual reality and augmented reality that can work in all sorts of conditions—even under water. The system consists of a magnetic field generator—small enough to slip in a pocket—along with sensors placed on key points on the hand, stylus, or whatever thing you want to track. The company can use lots of sensors, Zheng says, because they only cost about 70 cents each. The magnetic field generator, he continued, should cost about $30 to produce. Ommo unveiled the technology at Highway1 Demo Day held in San Francisco on Wednesday.

The company plans a $189 pair of gloves for its first product, designed for VR gamers, but has indicated it is getting inquiries from companies involved in 3D modeling and medicine. One medical center, Zheng said, is investigating whether a sensor attached to scalpels could be used to assess trainee surgeons.

Ommo raised $1 million in its seed round, and expects to release prototypes to developers next March.

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Tekla Perry
Palo Alto
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