Facebook envisions wristband controllers for future augmented reality systems
Facebook is working on a new piece of tech that could soon change the way we interact with augmented reality (AR). Using wristbands, the company is aiming at introducing a more natural and intuitive method to control its future AR glasses. Facebook Reality Labs (FRL) Research has been working on its first pair of smart glasses for a few years now, which are expected to become a common piece of tech by the end of the decade, according to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
The new wristband AR controllers are based on technology made by a startup called CTRL-Labs, which was acquired by Facebook in 2019. Using electromyography (EMG), the system is capable of translating complex hand movements and neural signals into actions. ‘Intelligent clicks’ as the company calls it, will be the simplest form of gesture that will open numerous possibilities. Instead of tracking hand movements using visual sensors mounted on a headset, Facebook’s wristbands can track nerve signals which should hopefully be more reliable and precise. These bands also come with haptic feedback which makes them more responsive than most hand-tracking tech.
“What we’re trying to do with neural interfaces is to let you control the machine directly, using the output of the peripheral nervous system — specifically the nerves outside the brain that animate your hand and finger muscles,” says FRL Director of Neuromotor Interfaces Thomas Reardon.
Here’s some mind-blowing technology being developed by @boztank and his team for our AR glasses: wrist-based sensors that let you control devices using the same electrical motor nerve signals you use to move your handshttps://t.co/UsVsGA7tm6 pic.twitter.com/T6xZzfoEdM
— Mike Schroepfer (@schrep) March 18, 2021
The possibilities are endless. Apart from giving users with AR glasses a new way to interact with virtual objects that are overlaid on the real world, the tech has the capability to track the nerve signals that are coming from your brain to your fingers. This opens up a new way for typing where a virtual keyboard could potentially replace physical buttons. By learning your patterns, the bands could also adapt and help reduce common errors that a user might make while typing and automatically correcting them. “The wrist is a traditional place to wear a watch, meaning it could reasonably fit into everyday life and social contexts. It’s a comfortable location for all-day wear. It’s located right next to the primary instruments you use to interact with the world — your hands.”
As of now, there is no launch timeline for these wristbands but we are expecting they will only be ready once Facebook has a working prototype of its long-awaited AR smart glasses.
Last month, the social media company made an announcement around the Oculus Quest where it said that users can now say “Hey Facebook” to interact with the device hands-free. The wake word is also said to be supported by the Portal, where users can also say “Hey Portal” to interact with their Portal device.