Advanced augmented reality devices such as the HoloLens and the Magic Leap 1, as well as the Ultraleap motion tracking modules, have proven robust hand-tracking capabilities. However, many AR wearables (including Magic Leap) still rely on handheld controllers for interactions in AR space.
Now a handheld controller manufacturer has reduced the size of its latest peripheral to the size of a finger.
On Monday, AR hardware and software maker Finch Technologies at Mobile World Congress Shanghai unveiled FinchRing, a wearable controller that enables gesture control and hand-tracking (3DoF and 6DoF) for AR headsets and can act as a mouse with desktops.
The first AR wearable maker to integrate the peripheral is Nreal, which already supports other Finch 6DoF controllers through the Nebula operating system for the Nreal Light.
A huge differentiator for the FinchRing compared to other handheld controllers, or even camera-based hand-tracking, is that it works outside of the confines of the field of view. For example, in a virtual baseball game, the FinchRing can track players’ arm movements as they come up to throw a ball. The unit can also venture outside, while some other controllers are limited to indoor play.
“Natural 360-degree motion in mixed reality has been one of the biggest challenges holding back the mainstream XR market and is something developers and consumers alike have been waiting for,” said Gary Yamamoto, CEO of Finch Technologies, in a statement. “At Finch, we combine the best proprietary 3D tracking technology, devices and software solutions to create natural mixed reality user interactions without interruption to action or movement, so that the promise of mixed reality can be fully realized for both consumers and enterprises. don’t wait to see what developers create with our hands-free FinchRing controller. “
The one-size-fits-all FinchRing is 3 to 5 mm thick and 13 mm wide and weighs 18 grams. It includes a six-axis sensor as an Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) for spatial tracking, a touchpad and force sensor for user input, and a haptic motor capable of customizable vibration patterns. The battery can be actively used for four hours and charges up to 80% in 20 minutes.
Along with the FinchRing comes an arm mounted FinchTracker, which works in tandem with the FinchRing to facilitate 6DoF tracking, as well as a charging case. Price and availability were not known at the time of writing, but those interested will keep an eye on the Finch website for updates.
While sensor-based hand tracking on the headset is the method of choice for advanced AR interactions, a wearable controller like FinchRing seems like a satisfying middle ground, especially for slimmed-down smartglasses that may not include the full array of sensors a headset likes. HoloLens carries.