Put These Magnets on Your Fingers and Watch the Magic Begin

Put These Magnets on Your Fingers and Watch the Magic Begin
Source: Finexus
Source: Finexus

Wouldn't it be incredible to control precise hand movements in virtual reality? How would you like to do it using... magnets?

Thanks to a group of researchers at the University of Washington and Oculus Research, Magneto-like powers may soon be literally at your fingertips. They've developed a project called Finexus, which uses magnetic sensors to observe and record electromagnets placed on a user's digits. 

Source: Mic/YouTube

MIT Technology Review explains how it functions:  

"Finexus works kind of like a GPS system: The distances between an electromagnet and the four magnetic sensors is calculated, then the intersection of each of those four distances is determined and used to figure out the electromagnet's position in space. Each electromagnet operates on a different frequency, which [lead researcher Keyu] Chen says makes it easier to identify them individually.

Unlike tracking systems that rely on cameras to figure out where your head or specific body parts are located, Finexus doesn't need a direct line of sight between the electromagnet and the sensor." 

Source: Mic/Youtube

According to lead researcher Keyu Chen, the technology could be used for a number of virtual reality-related applications, like playing the piano, writing, drawing or playing games. He noted that eventually, the sensors and the electromagnets could work in tandem as a glove and wristband or smartwatch, with the glove holding the magnets and the wrist holding the sensors. 

If the technology makes its way into a virtual reality device, it could give users much more control over their motions — particularly those of the hand, which tend to be more precise than other body movements. 

As of now, however, Chen isn't sure whether this will happen. But, as he told MIT Technology Review, "I do not know if [Oculus is] going to put this in a future product, but that is one possibility."

Watch the full video below:

Source: YouTube

h/t MIT Technology Review

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Sophie Kleeman

Sophie is a staff writer at Mic covering the intersection of tech and culture. She's based in New York and can be reached at sophie@mic.com.

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