Exclusive Interview with Alexey Kachan CEO of Senso Devices.
RealityDome had the opportunity to chat with Alexey Kachan CEO of Senso.
Senso is a California base Startup. They developed VR Accessories like Vr Gloves and VR suit.
01: Please tell us a little bit about yourself, your background and Senso?
Alexey: My name is Alexey Kachan. I’m founder and CEO of Senso Devices.
After graduation from Siberian Federal University in Krasnoyarsk, Russia in 1999 I have been working for a telecom company for 10 years as a system engineer, developer and consequently have finished up my career as a head of IT department.
It was a really good experience, but working for such a huge company (Russian branch of Tele2) means being locked in specific terms and possibilities.
With my friends, we established a new company, Svyazcom (http://svyazcom.ru), and I continued working for telecom business just from the other side – creating software products instead of using it. It was very successful and still is.
However, projects for telecom do not have much freedom for imagination – as a developer you can decide how to do something, but not what to do.
Senso Devices for me is an entirely new field for creation something I really like. There is something I can do using all the skills I have – as a software developer, electronic engineer, team leader, head of the company – everything all together. It is very challenging, but also inspiring.
02: What made you want to get into this business?
Alexey: First time when I got Google Glass (soon after Google announced availability for developers of their first version) possibilities of AR very inspired me. It was amazingly cool – such a small but powerful thing – two cameras, bright semitransparent display, touchpad, IMU sensor and Android on board. It was really something. The idea was cool, and I was pretty sure – these devices are our nearest future, even if Google give up – someone else is going to make this again but better.
Of course, first google glasses had its cons. It was pretty annoying for me being unable to touch what you see, having no option to control lenses except poor voice recognition interface and not the very convenient touchpad. Since I didn’t have a convenient interface, I decided to create it by myself.
03: Tell us about Senso gloves and how does it work?
Alexey: VR Senso Glove allows tracking fingers, palm, and wrist, with haptic feedback via vibration motors.
It provides a very natural interface for any computer software especially when it is the about 3D environment.
Vibration effects allow you to feel boundaries of virtual objects – not in the same way as you feel real objects but good enough to make your virtual hands more real and to manage virtual objects efficiently.
The same effects are widely used in the smartphones.
Senso gloves are the result of our teamwork. There were many prototypes with many options – we integrated and removed many things like IR remote control, color OLED display, wireless charging and even temperature control. After all, we have VR Gloves DK2 with these options:
- 8 IMU sensors – 6 for fingers (thumb has 2), one for Palm (mainboard) and one for the wrist.
- IR receivers and transmitters in IR transmissive enclosure for possibility to use with HTC and Oculus tracking systems
- 6 vibration motors (five for fingers and one on the wrist)
- light, stretchable fabric
- Bluetooth LE 4.0 connectivity and wired connectivity (as part of VR suit)
- Optional sensors (for shoulder, for example) as detachable modules mounted by Velcro tape
We’re trying to keep it compatible with the most popular existing technologies like HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Google Cardboard devices and to integrate new features.
04: Also you recently launched Sense suit, tell me about that?
Alexey: The virtual suit is based on the same technologies – IMU sensors and vibration motors. We call it suit because it is something you wear on, but technically, it consists of 10-15 modules. The modules have size about 1 inch in diameter, they are lightweight and connected with very flexible cables ended with 2.5 audio plug (connector like any earphones with the microphone have, just smaller than widely used 3.5 plug).
All modules can be easily attached by Velcro and kind of ribbon tape.
A number of modules depend on your goal.
If our customer wants to track upper parts of body only or just legs he doesn’t have to use all 15 modules.
VR suit is not something apart of VR gloves project; it is rather part of it because every DK2 VR gloves have one VR suit module for the wrist and can use one more for tracking shoulder as well.
Similar way, VR suit designed for tracking body parts like feet, arms, head but can be connected with VR gloves to track fingers as well.
The difference is that VR suit has its own wireless hub connected to every module and it may also act as a transceiver for VR Senso gloves data. In this case, VR gloves work in ‘slave’ mode, and one point of connectivity is wireless (Wi-Fi) VR suit hub.
When VR gloves work as a standalone unit, they use Bluetooth interface for transferring data.
It is not a big difference for customer or developer because we provide similar API for any interface, though.
05: Are Senso gloves and suit compatible with any VR headset ? also they require any 3rd party plug-in?
Alexey: VR gloves and VR suit are compatible with any VR headset in the same way as any computer mouse is compatible with any display, just because they serve different purposes. So answer is yes – you can use VR glove and VR suit with HTC, Oculus and even with cardboard on Android without additional equipment. It might be useful when you are on the airplane with Samsung Gear VR and don’t have space for some additional equipment, but VR gloves can help you to control your virtual environment.
It is more convenient than using Oculus Rift with powerful laptop and Oculus touch and pack of external cameras unless you travel in first class coupe, so to speak.
We are also working to make VR gloves compatible with existing controllers, to use them with existing software.
Compatibility with controllers like Oculus Touch and the possibility to use VR glove instead of a mouse, keyboard or VR controllers most used types is a crucial part of making our VR devices good for customers right now without waiting for some patches from game developers.
06: tell me about your team?
Alexey: We have several very qualified software developers and hardware engineers. I’m also a software developer and engineer – it is convenient to perform some programming things along with the understanding of how hardware elements work. It’s easier to work with people when you really know what and how they think. Especially when you can also invent and improve some parts.
To be honest, everyone can be a founder of something, but when another professional tells “you are a good engineer,” it is the best compliment for me.
We also have part-time workers who share working for Senso and for primary Svyazcom company, it helps us to solve tasks fast on demand.
07: what are the future plans for senso?What opportunities and challenges have yet to be attained?
Alexey: Good question. First of all, we want to be successful because it means that we do right and useful things and because it allows us to create other projects and promote our ideas. Regarding VR glove and suit, we hope to create useful for developers and customers product, easy to use API and become a part of VR standards.
We want to make VR gloves very affordable and widely used device, not like a toy for some geeks, but useful for common life as well. Smart home, smart wearables, smart clothes – everything for smart people.
08: what You think about VR and AR? what are the scope and challenges?
Alexey: Good question again. It is very obvious – for me at least – that AR well be a huge part of our life in next decades. It is convenient and enriches our lives and our knowledge. Of course, there are some steps – let’s say, videophone promoted by sci-fi writers many years ago still is not widely used, instead of that, we have Skype. And the same way, AR might be not Google Glass or Microsoft HoloLens, but for sure we’ll have better and more useful devices very soon. Just think about how much more informative our world could be with AR.
We could have information about everything just looking at it and stay in touch online with everyone, everywhere in a more convenient and effective way than doing it now with Facebook, WhatsApp, etc.
For business, it works as well. There is no difference where your colleague or customer is located if you can see him and communicate with him with the same quality as you do it in real life.
AR in common life is our immediate future, but benefits of wearing improved Google Glass, having information from the Internet about anything around you just same second as you see it, staying online every time and everywhere – it is just a beginning.
As soon as we get technologies to connect our minds with the computer directly without all these props – world changes immediately. You don’t need to think what you need to know and how to find it on the Internet but you just get it the same moment as you need information.
This future is freaky promising yet unavoidable. So if we can’t avoid it, we can at least to try to make it better and become a part of it.
This is what Senso does, step by step, and me myself – starting from telecom and messengers and moving closer and closer to natural interfaces.
09: Thank you very much for the interview Alexey?
Alexey: Thank you for the opportunity to tell about us, our products and our hopes.
Follow Senso: https://senso.me