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)

Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

His pivot from defense helped a tiny tuning-fork prevent SUV rollovers and plane crashes

11 min read
Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

In 1992, Asad M. Madni sat at the helm of BEI Sensors and Controls, overseeing a product line that included a variety of sensor and inertial-navigation devices, but its customers were less varied—mainly, the aerospace and defense electronics industries.

And he had a problem.

The Cold War had ended, crashing the U.S. defense industry. And business wasn’t going to come back anytime soon. BEI needed to identify and capture new customers—and quickly.

Keep Reading ↓Show less