It was revealed today that Samsung Electronics filed a patent in December of last year for the magnetic VR hand controllers. Samsung, the manufacturers of Oculus-powered Gear VR headset filed the patent with descriptions and concept image which suggest that the controllers would provide a more intuitive and precise hand-tracking for the Gear VR.
Excerpts from the abstract of the patent reads
“a method of controlling an electronic device, the method includes, based on a magnetic field generated by a source, obtaining a coordinate of a user’s hand; and reflecting the obtained coordinate of the user’s hand in a virtual reality environment based on a change of a location of the source due to a movement of the user.”
The full details of this device remain undisclosed, however, the description so far sounds similar to the way STEM System Sixense controller works. Nevertheless, we expect significant differences if the device goes into production.
The new controller is similar to the existing Gear VR controller with the addition of a new hand strap that attaches to the back of the hand as shown above. This is similar to the prototype of Valve’s Knuckle controller. This modification will eliminate the consistent need to grasp the controller itself and users can freely move their hands.
Samsung Gear VR is undoubtedly the most distributed VR headset in the market with over 5 million units sold. Despite the sales, this device lacks positional tracking thus a magnetic tracking system would be a plus. In all, this is just a patent. Dozens of patents are filed by various manufacturers annually and most never see the light of day. There is no need to get too excited as this is only an indication that Samsung may be working on a magnetic VR hand controller.