Samsung’s FaceSense Enables Hands-Free VR Interfacing

The technology is currently experimental.

Companies are experimenting with numerous ways to interact with virtual reality (VR) environments, from data gloves and haptic vests, to eye tracking and omni-directional treadmills. As Samsung has become one of the big VR players with the popular Gear VR head-mounted display (HMD), its also keen on developing some fresh new ideas on what can be achieved. At the recent VRLA 2017 event the company showcased an experimental project called FaceSense, a way of navigating VR using facial movement.

Developed by C-Lab (Creative Lab), Samsung’s startup business program that nurtures its employees’ innovative ideas – remember Rink? – FaceSense recognises and translates facial biometric signals, turning the data into navigational signals. When wearing a VR headset users faces constantly generate electric signals when they speak or change expression.

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Samsung demonstrated a prototype at VRLA 2017 using a Gear VR fitted with 11 electrodes to gather the biometric signals. Using specialised algorithms, the technology not only registers movement in the user’s eyes and facial muscles, it was also capable of understanding certain words such as ‘home’, ‘back’, ‘select’ and ‘cancel’ to aid in the process.

While this early design is geared around hands-free interfacing, so that a users doesn’t need the touchpad or a Bluetooth controller, the technology also has more far reaching applications. It could allow VR to be opened up to more individuals who don’t currently use the tech due to usage impediments, such as the loss of a limb or paralysis for example.

Other technologies like eye-tracking could also aid in this avenue of VR development, not only aiding wider consumer usage but also increasing the immersive qualities of VR.

These are still early days for FaceSense and it may not even get past the prototyping stage but hopefully Samsung will demo it further to gauge consumer reaction.

This isn’t the first time biometric sensor techniques have been used in VR. Last year VRFocus reported on Emteq and its Faceteq technology.

VRFocus will continue to follow the progress of FaceSense, reporting back with any further updates.

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