In the dystopian future of Alfonso Cuarón’s 2006 film “Children of Men,” the year 2027 is bleak. Humanity straddles the precipice of extinction. The world is eerily familiar—maybe not for the cataclysmic infertility that’s stricken humanity, but for the vision of the future that’s not far-fetched technologically speaking.
One scene features a wristband device with wires extending to each fingertip. A character uses the device to control a small cube on a screen while dining.
A new device developed by a group of researchers from the Univ. of Washington and Oculus Research—reminiscent of the aforementioned fictional device and meant for virtual reality—will be presented at the ACM CHI 2016 conference for human-computer interaction, according to MIT Technology Review.
“With the resurgence of head-mounted displays for virtual reality, users need new input devices that can accurately track their hands and fingers in motion,” according to Keyu Chen, a graduate students at the Univ. of Washington’s ubiquitous-computing lab. “Finexus is a multipoint tracking system using magnetic field sensing for such a purpose. By instrumenting the fingertips with electromagnets, the system is able to track fine fingertip movements in real time using only four magnetometers. To keep the system robust to noise, we operate each electromagnet at a different frequency and leverage bandpass filters in order to distinguish signals attributed to individual sensing points for localization.”
MIT Technology Review reports the device is accurate within 1.3 mm, and can operate at distances of 12 cm between the electromagnets and sensors.
The outlet reports Chen conceived the idea while working as an intern at Oculus Research, however it is unknown if the technology will be incorporated into any Oculus technology. Chen envision the Finexus being used for virtual tasks, such as playing the virtual piano or virtual painting.
Development of the system is ongoing.
The Oculus Rift virtual reality headset is set for release in the first quarter of 2016.