Aura: Inside-out Electromagnetic Controller Tracking

Eric Whitmire, Farshid Salemi Parizi, Shwetak Patel
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Aura uses custom non-orthogonal coils on the headset and a 3-axis receiver coil within the handheld controller to reconstruct the 6-DoF pose of the controller.


The ability to track handheld controllers in 3D space is critical for interaction with head-mounted displays, such as those used in virtual and augmented reality systems. Today’s systems commonly rely on dedicated infrastructure to track the controller or only provide inertial-based rotational tracking, which severely limits the user experience. Optical inside-out systems offer mobility but require line-of-sight and bulky tracking rings, which limit the ubiquity of these devices. In this work, we present Aura, an inside-out electromagnetic 6-DoF tracking system for handheld controllers. The tracking system consists of three coils embedded in a head-mounted display and a set of orthogonal receiver coils embedded in a handheld controller. We propose a novel closed-form and computationally simple tracking approach to reconstruct position and orientation in real time. Our handheld controller is small enough to fit in a pocket and consumes less than 15 mA of current, allowing it to operate for multiple days on a typical battery. Aura achieves a median tracking error of 5.5 mm and 0.8 degrees in 3D space within arm's reach.