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

Startup Ommo wants to take a magnetic field generator in your pocket and sensors on your fingertips into the world of virtual reality

1 min read
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.

The Conversation (0)

Special Report: Top Tech 2021

After months of blood, toil, tears, and sweat, we can all expect a much better year

1 min read
Photo-illustration: Edmon de Haro

Last January in this space we wrote that “technology doesn't really have bad years." But 2020 was like no other year in recent memory: Just about everything suffered, including technology. One shining exception was biotech, with the remarkably rapid development of vaccines capable of stemming the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year's roundup of anticipated tech advances includes an examination of the challenges in manufacturing these vaccines. And it describes how certain technologies used widely during the pandemic will likely have far-reaching effects on society, even after the threat subsides. You'll also find accounts of technical developments unrelated to the pandemic that the editors of IEEE Spectrum expect to generate news this year.

Keep Reading ↓ Show less