Samsung Filed A Patent For Magnetic VR Hand Controllers

by David Jagneaux • June 29th, 2017

Today we learned that Samsung, the creators of the Oculus-powered Gear VR headset, filed a patent in late December of last year for magnetic VR hand controllers. Based on the description in the patent and the accompanying concept image (embedded below), the controllers would be used to provide more visceral and accurate hand-tracking for the Gear VR.

According to the Abstract, the patent is for: “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.”

I’m no expert on the inner workings of VR technology, but it sounds similar to me in concept to how the STEM System’s Sixense controllers work — although their current status remains a bit of a mystery. Granted, there are probably some very key differences, but the patent language isn’t specific enough to clear that up in my head.

Concept image from Samsung’s magnetic VR controller patent.

In the concept image above you can see the controllers which appear to be similarly shaped to the existing Gear VR controller, albeit with a new handstrap that attaches over the back of the hand, similar to Valve’s Knuckle controller prototype. This would allow the user to move their hands more freely without having to grasp the controller itself at all times.

A magnetic tracking system directly from Samsung would be a big move forward for the otherwise limited Samsung Gear VR. With over 5 million units sold so far it’s easily the most widely distributed VR headset on the market, but it lacks positional tracking and its controller pales in comparison to the likes of the Vive, Rift, and even the lackluster PSVR Move controllers.

And of course it goes without saying, but this is just a patent. There’s no reason to necessarily believe Samsung is actively working on a magnetic VR hand controller that will actually see the light of day.

What do you think of this patent? Let us know in the comments below!

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What's your reaction?
  • Robbie Cartwright

    Reminds me of those prototype finger tracking controllers they showed off like a year ago. Looks like they’re using magnetism to track the whole hand and then maybe they’ll be doing the finger tracking with cameras again. Sounds cool! ^^

  • Zpfunk

    That patent image is for the Samsung “VR Rink” controllers, this is old news. You can even find video footage of them being demoed at CES 2016. It’s on the Upload VR youtube channel no less.

    Mystery Solved.

    • Doctor Bambi

      Yep, surprised the article didn’t mention Rink. Guess they finally got the patent filed. Here’s the video if anyone is interested: youtube. com/watch?v=l3M3TmaU2lg

  • d0x360

    I’m all for a vr controller that tracks all my fingers but I don’t want to lose the dual analog sticks from the oculus controller. I’m a fan of normal movement in vr games, I don’t really like teleporting which is necessary in most games because of the Vive.

    Having controllers that track all your fingers is great but I think the oculus design is pretty ideal.