Ultraleap, a British company that specialises in hand tracking and gesture detection technology, recently announced that Chinese tech giant Tencent had invested more than $20 million into the company. It is an important milestone for Ultra Leap and has the potential to move the company into the mainstream. By investing in this innovative technology, Tencent is taking a significant step toward developing new applications of its own. So, what prompted this decision?
To answer this question, we must understand how their collaboration might be beneficial both to Tencent and Ultraleap. In doing so, we will cover the core purposes behind their collaboration, what opportunities each may gain from it, and how the infusion of capital will help each advance their respective goals. Our exploration will also address how customer experience could be positively impacted by leveraging these two organisations’ capabilities together.
Ultraleap has developed a technological breakthrough in mid-air haptics that has caught the attention of Tencent, one of the world’s largest technology companies.
Ultraleap’s mid-air haptic technology enables users to feel virtual objects with their hands. This technology will be essential in helping usher in the age of virtual reality, augmented reality, and extended reality.
In this article, we’ll look at the technology behind Ultraleap and why Tencent decided to invest in it.
What is mid-air haptics?
Mid-air haptics is a technology that allows users to experience tactile feedback in the air, without the need for physical contact. The technology uses an ultrasonic phased array of small air-displacement actuators to create pressure patterns in the air that travel toward a user’s hands. Devices such as Ultraleap’s patented Motion Controllers then detect and accurately track these vibrations as they move, allowing for realistic and efficient feedback.
The resulting sensations are referred to as mid-air haptics; they are quite pronounced, but not uncomfortable. Mid-air haptics have a number of potential applications, ranging from virtual reality and gaming to automotive control systems. For instance, it has been suggested that by using mid-air haptics technology, drivers could feel the buttons on an automobile dashboard without ever touching them. Other potential applications of mid-air haptic technology include virtual medical procedures, where medical students can practise operations on virtual patients and coaches can use it to provide tactile feedback during sporting activities such as bowling or golfing.
The advantages of mid-air haptionic technology over other forms of tactile feedback include high accuracy and efficiency, greater immersion into virtual worlds with realistic sensations, improved user experiences such as greater comfort for gaming with motion controllers and greatly reduced costs compared to traditional solutions that require mechanical contact to produce or transmit signals.
Tencent’s investments in Ultraleap in 2020 highlights how important this disruptive technology is for various industries like entertainment, automotive and gaming – looking at how it can revolutionise user interactions with digital experiences today. This brings many new opportunities for companies seeking solutions powered by mid-air haptics that go beyond traditional touch screens or physical buttons – offering natural control over digital experiences by allowing users to reach out into thin air interactively through realistic sensations received through their fingertips and palms while engaging enjoying simulated environments such as VR or AR games.
How is it used?
Ultraleap technology is used to enable us to interact with computers and digital environments in a whole new way. It is a type of ‘haptic’ or tactile technology that uses ultrasound waves to detect input. It works by transmitting ultrasound waves between its emitter module, which sends out the waves, and its receivers, which detect the waves when they are reflected back. This enables Ultraleap’s technology to track hand movements with extreme precision so that users can use natural gestures to control devices and explore digital environments.
The hand-tracking ability of Ultraleap’s technology has enabled numerous applications such as interacting with virtual reality experiences, operating robots, controlling drones remotely, using fingertip level precision in engineering designs and creating advanced human-machine interfaces. For example, Tencent invested in Ultraleap earlier this year due to the huge potential of this technology for the gaming industry.
Applications of Ultraleap’s technology can be broadly divided into two categories: physical world applications and virtual/digital world applications. In physical world applications, ultrasound waves are used for tracking hand movements in three-dimensional space and detecting contactless outputs like pressure sensing – as seen in medical robotics and rehabilitation technologies such as prosthetics – whilst virtual/digital world applications involve tracking hand movements within a simulated environment like augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR). As a result of these applications, developers have been able to create incredibly realistic immersive experiences and interactive simulations that allow users to learn through hands-on interactions instead of just viewing visuals on screen.
Ultraleap’s mid-air haptics tempts Tencent to join its $82M Series D fundraising
Tencent recently joined Ultraleap’s $82 million Series D fundraising round with a $15 million investment, demonstrating that the Chinese tech giant is eager to get involved in the mid-air haptics industry. This move marks Tencent’s first investment into the haptics sector, and provides valuable resources to Ultraleap as they continue to develop their technology.
Let’s look at what led Tencent to invest in Ultraleap and why this investment is beneficial for both companies.
What led Tencent to invest in Ultraleap?
Tencent’s investment in ultraleap highlights how big Chinese technology companies are increasingly looking for opportunities in the global market to boost their businesses and increase revenues. Ultraleap provides tension-sensing technology that enables users to interact with virtual overlays in real space.
Tencent’s decision to invest in Ultraleap is based on its desire to explore new markets and product uses. Tencent has been looking at ways to expand its portfolio outside China for some time, and the investment in Ultraleap demonstrates that it is continuing down this path. Tencent will benefit from increased sales by leveraging Ultraleap’s existing customer base across the world, as well as its advanced motion sensing capabilities offered by hand-gesture recognition technology.
In addition, Ultraleap’s product solutions could also be adapted and adapted further by Tencent into a range of immersive interactive experiences, including Virtual Reality (VR) gaming systems and other commercial applications. The potential of VR technology has been recognized by larger companies such as Google, Microsoft, Sony, Samsung and Oculus – making investments like this a clear indication of further strategic intent.
What are the benefits of this investment?
Investing in technology companies has many advantages, and Tencent’s recent investment in Ultraleap is a prime example. The Chinese internet giant has invested US$45 million into the British-based 3D motion control company, which is developing immersive hand tracking technology for augmented and virtual reality applications.
Tencent’s wide array of holdings makes it one of the world’s largest investment firms, and its backing could help Ultraleap power through some of the biggest challenges currently facing the tech industry as a whole. Having access to resources and guidance from an experienced investor may be able to help the company reach its full potential faster than if it was on its own.
Tencent also stands to gain greatly from this investment, through direct access to Ultraleap’s advanced technological expertise and research. By becoming a major shareholder, Tencent will receive exclusive rights over Ultraleap’s intellectual property to create better AR/VR experiences at lower costs — enabling the company to accelerate the development of compelling interactive experiences that capitalise on natural human movement. On top of this, Tencent will gain first-hand insights into how newer technologies may enhance future AR/VR projects, giving them valuable market foresight for upcoming investments.
Overall this mutually beneficial agreement promises great potential for both parties involved; with Tencent’s financial support enabling Ultraleap to develop even more expansive applications for ingenious tech initiatives beyond just hand tracking for their select markets around the globe.
Future of Ultraleap
With the position of Chinese tech giant Tencent in its $82M Series D fundraising for UK-based Ultraleap, the future of mid-air haptics is looking very promising. Tencent’s move has given further impetus to the haptics market, which has seen an impressive growth over the last few years.
In this article, we will explore the implications of Tencent’s investment and the future of mid-air haptics powered by Ultraleap.
What are the potential applications of mid-air haptics?
Mid-air haptics creates a tactile sensation of touch in the air that can be used in virtual and augmented reality experiences, animated content, gaming, medical simulations and beyond. By bringing an extra layer of immersion to any experience, haptics elevate traditional entertainment by adding a 3D feel to flat 2D content.
The potential applications for mid-air haptics are endless and can be used across various industries:
- Gaming: Imagine feeling a vibration or jolt in the palm of your hand when you hit enemies or dodge obstacles in a video game. Or adding feedback to flight simulator games which simulate the vibrations your body would feel from a real plane
- Medical training: Surgeons and medical professionals could utilise mid-air haptics when undergoing simulation training for endoscopic surgery. This technology has been found to improve three-dimensional anatomical understanding among surgeons over conventional visualisation methods.
- Augmented/Virtual Reality: Instead of feeling like an observer in a digital world, mid-air haptics can make people feel as though they’re touching physical objects by generating different levels of sensations from rough textures to soft cushions. It can help people accurately gauge distances between objects or judge faster between multiple objects while immersed in AR/VR experiences.
Mid-air haptic technology is still new but its appeal lies in its unobtrusive design that doesn’t require users to handle components with their hands as it is enough if users are close enough to receive the sense of touch given off by ultrasound pulses. With tech giants such as Tencent investing heavily into this area – giving way to the numerous potential applications – mid air haptic technology is sure to become an integral component within consumer applications and industry alike.
What does the future hold for Ultraleap?
The future’s looking bright for Ultraleap. With the recent investment from Tencent, the company has strengthened their financial foothold, allowing them to scale up and develop future technologies even faster. This injection provides the company with resources to accelerate their product pipeline and establish themselves as a world-leading force in mid-air haptic technology.
Tencent sees great potential in Ultraleap’s existing augmented reality (AR) products, such as digital gloves and interactive haptic surfaces – two solutions that could revolutionise how we interact with technology. Furthermore, they plan to support new applications such as tactile gaming – an exciting new field that blends physical and virtual worlds together.
As described by Songhua Ni, CEO of Tencent Investment & M & M&A Group: “We believe Ultraleap’s proprietary solutions have truly differentiated features compared to efforts by other players in this space currently. We are extremely excited by the potential opportunities within gaming, virtual reality (VR) entertainment and other consumer/enterprise applications that can be derived from this unique technology platform at low cost points compared to traditional hardware methods.”
These investments demonstrate an eagerness for the company’s solutions across a wide range of industries — providing many exciting opportunities for future growth. With Tencent at its side, Ultraleap has established itself as a formidable player in the mid-air haptics market — leading them ever closer towards rethinking how people interact with technology on a global level.