uMotio: SA-made motion controller

Johannesburg-based Ignatius Havemann and Tom van den Bon have listed their passion-project, the uMotio motion controller, on crowdfunding website Indiegogo.

Like other motion controllers already on the market, the uMotio lets you interact with your PC using hand and finger gestures.

Unlike commercially available offerings such as the Leap Motion, uMotio supports a whole host of other platforms, including hobbyist favourites such as Arduino and the Raspberry Pi.

At $65 for the wired “uMotio White” unit, it also comes in quite a bit cheaper than most others.

It is also completely open, making it well-suited for the DIY projects of other hackers.

“Schematics, layouts and software will be released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license. This will be available on GitHub after the campaign ends successfully. Designs and software library will be available when finalized,” the pair say on their Indiegogo campaign page.

This won’t detract from the device’s usability though, as the pair say the uMotio will work straight out of the box with no technical experience required.

Technical details

The uMotio works by transmitting frequencies in the range of 70 to 130 kilohertz (kHz).

This results in a “quasi-static electrical near field that can be used for sensing conductive objects such as the human body.”

Because of the low frequencies and frequency hopping techniques used, the two say that no interference will disturb the controller.

Even placing a phone on the controller while it’s ringing hasn’t interfered with the uMotio’s sensor.

For the 3D tracking and gesture sensing, the uMotio uses Microchip’s 32-bit MGC3130 GestIC technology, which Havemann and Van den Bon say gives it a 0 to 15cm detection range with a resolution of up to 150 dots per inch.

An Atmel ATmega32U4 8-bit AVR microcontroller operating at 3.3V is used for the external interface and the pair have promised to load the AVR with an Arduino-compatible bootloader.

The reason for the Indiegogo campaign, the two have said, is because the most cost effective way of building more uMotios, is to do it in bulk.

“Our crowd funding campaign is a way for us to gauge the interest and to get the capital to do our first production run,” they said.

“Money funded from this campaign will be used for setup costs, certifications, and the initial production run of uMotio units.”

At the time of publication there were only a few days left on uMotio’s Indiegogo campaign, so if you’re interested, the time to pledge is now.

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uMotio: SA-made motion controller