Wearing a magnetic sensor on your skin allows you to manipulate virtual objects without the use of VR glasses or gloves. The sensor is, as it were, a sixth sense for magnetic fields.
The sensor is mounted on a thin layer of plastic, making it easier to wear on the skin – in this case the palm of your hand. Via the sensor you can dim a virtual lamp just with a wave of your hand. The virtual lamp is visible on a computer monitor that is in contact with the sensor.
The sensor was developed by researchers from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf together with researchers of the IFW Dresden and the Johannes Kepler University Linz.
The wearer of the sensor holds his hand over another fixed magnet in a plastic ring: the ‘dimmer’. The sensor consists of two Wheatstone bridges, instruments that measure electrical resistance. Each bridge comprises four parts with a variable resistance that is dependent on the prevailing magnetic field. This field, and hence the variable resistance, changes when the wearer moves his or her hand above the button. The Wheatstone bridges detect these changes so that the sensor knows in which direction the hand is turning.
The researchers encoded these movements so that they correspond to a given intensity of the virtual lamp. A rotation of the hand to the left, for example, corresponds to an increase in the light intensity.
The sensor can provide an improved virtual reality (VR) experience, among other things. At the present time, virtual objects are manipulated using large glasses and special gloves. This makes the VR experience less authentic. Furthermore, cameras in the glasses have a limited resolution so that only large movements can be detected. The new sensor is similar to a second skin and detects even small movements, as the experiment has shown.
The sensor may also be useful for the security industry, as the controlled virtual object does not have to be in the operator’s field of vision. This is an advantage in cases where there are virtual control systems in rooms that cannot be entered due to a dangerous situation, as the systems can then be remotely controlled via the magnetic sensor.
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