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Want to make VR realistic with use of hands

Norconsult is a leading company on model-based implementation within the building and construction industry. This matches well with the Norwegian start-up Ntention’s vision to do make human-machine interaction natural and intuitive.

Use of your hands in virtual reality

For those that are familiar with VR-technology (Virtual Reality), today is all interaction in VR based on VR-controllers. They work relatively similar to a regular game console controller, but to make VR as comfortable and realistic as possible you need to be able to use your own hands as you would in the real world. To be able to use your hands normally in a VR context, a lot of data is required. A human finger has up to three joints and the five knuckles can move in several axes. Technically, there are several solutions to track hand- and finger movement. For example, video analysis can be used. The challenge with video analysis is that it produces a lot of data and is processor-heavy to implement.

Gloves filled with technology

For Norconsult, it was important to build an effective and mobile solution for VR in construction projects, which can easily be set up in customer meetings or at the construction site. Therefore, Ntention and Norconsult concluded that the best solution would be to create gloves that use state-of-the-art stretch sensors, IMUs (sensors that combine accelerometer, magnetometer, and gyroscope) and VR-trackers (infrared light technology used to estimate position in VR) to produce a picture of how hands and fingers are placed and moved.

To know which technologies that can be sewn together are part of Ntention’s cutting edge expertise.

We are a software company that has been forced to be good at hardware because we have always been ahead of the hardware market with our solutions. It has given us a worldwide network, and we know exactly which suppliers to call when we face challenges like Norconsult presented us this summer. In this context, there are players in Eindhoven in the Netherlands and in New Zealand, says Moina Tamuly, Co-CEO and Co-Founder at Ntention.

The partnership with Norconsult was like gaining superpowers

Within a few weeks, Ntention managed to build a solution that has been under development for five years, and they give Norconsult part of the credit for being able to maintain high development frequencies throughout the summer.

It has been fantastic to have the resources and expertise of Norconsult in the back the recent months. It’s been like suddenly getting superpowers. We have received fantastic follow-up and assistance along the way and the organizational challenges the crew has dealt with to facilitate the development is incomprehensible. We showed up the first day and were told that we would just pick all the equipment we needed to build our product, says Håvard Brandal Pedersen, Lead Software Engineer at Ntention.

Opportunities in the space and at the construction site

Ntention has had a busy summer. While collaborating with Norconsult, they have also collaborated with NASA partners SETI Institute, Mars Institute, Haughton-Mars Project and Collins Aerospace.

There were good synergies between what we researched this summer and the collaboration with Norconsult. For example, the VR solutions we built with Norconsult allowed us to iterate much faster on the solutions we did with HMP and we received great resources, support and help along the way at Norconsult throughout the summer, says Tamuly.

Norconsult is now looking for projects where the technology can be tested. There are great opportunities for education and maintenance. It is just a matter of finding the right project and customer that will be involved.

Article first published by Norconsult in Norwegian. Content translated by Vegard J. Løwe at Ntention.

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Vegard J. Løwe