Omni: Volumetric Sensing and Actuation of Passive Magnetic Tools for Dynamic Haptic Feedback

Thomas Langerak, Juan Zarate, David Lindlbauer, Christian Holz, and Otmar Hilliges. Proceedings of ACM UIST 2020.

We present Omni, a self-contained 3D haptic feedback system that is capable of sensing and actuating an untethered, passive tool containing only a small embedded permanent magnet. Omni enriches AR, VR and desktop applications by providing an active haptic experience using a simple apparatus centered around an electromagnetic base. The spatial haptic capabilities of Omni are enabled by a novel gradient-based method to reconstruct the 3D position of the permanent magnet in midair using the measurements from eight off-the-shelf hall sensors that are integrated into the base. Omni’s 3 DoF spherical electromagnet simultaneously exerts dynamic and precise radial and tangential forces in a volumetric space around the device. Since our system is fully integrated, contains no moving parts and requires no external tracking, it is easy and affordable to fabricate. We describe Omni’s hardware implementation, our 3D reconstruction algorithm, and evaluate the tracking and actuation performance in depth. Finally, we demonstrate its capabilities via a set of interactive usage scenarios.