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Magnets could soon track your fingers in virtual reality

Oculus hopes you'll one day grab VR objects thanks to magnetic sensors.

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In an ideal world, you'd grab objects in virtual reality with your hands, like you do in real life. However, that's not usually how it works -- outside of some specialized gloves, you're left using abstract controllers. Oculus and University of Washington researchers might make it a reality, though. They've developed Finexus, a control method that uses a combination of fingertip electromagnets and sensors to track your hands. The system detects the distances between each finger and the sensor, and uses the intersection of each distance to determine a given digit's exact 3D position. Unlike with camera tracking, you don't need a direct line of sight to the sensors for this to work -- you could tie your virtual shoelaces if you wanted.

Finexus in its current form looks clunky, and it requires that the sensors sit less than 5 inches away. However, the researchers believe that they could refine things to the point that you're wearing a glove with a sensor pack as far as 10 inches away. While you'd still notice the gear on your hands, it'd be sufficiently out of the way that you can focus on interacting with VR worlds instead of the basics of finding your way around. Don't be shocked if you eventually get some smart apparel to go with your Oculus Rift.

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