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Touching the Intangible with Magos's haptic gloves - Interview with Greg Agriopoulos, CEO Magos

Elena Ghinita

"The early stages – especially for a deep tech startup – is a really tough process. All aspects from technology and business model development to fundraising, team structure and founders’ commitment are huge challenges that the team has to overcome."

Founded in 2017, Magos empowers the end-users in healthcare, engineering, education, telerobotic and gaming to access more data, test scenarios before happening and improve experiences trough Extended Reality (XR).

The haptic gloves by Magos can access digital environments and data that are hardly accessible otherwise. The powerful combination of finger tracking gloves with haptic feedback technology makes it possible to accurately feel 3D objects in your VR environments.

Read below more about Magos seen from the eyes of Greg Agriopoulos, one of the founders.

Hi Greg, you are the co-founder and CEO of Magos today. Magos is such an innovative and unique concept. Let's go down on memory lane.

How did you come up with this idea?


Being an electrical engineer, it was among my top interests to build technological products from my early studies. And right after [the studies] I followed a career in business development and contract management for technology projects in ICT and defense sectors. Also, I followed an MBA in technology innovation, and during that, I noticed the European Space Agency hackathon called “act in space” back in 2016. During the competition, our idea was to take advantage of a space related technology, based on magnetism, and to develop a solution that will translate sign language into speech. We won the national competition and then proceeded to the finals in Toulouse, France. We were ranked really high – third place. So, after that we decided to continue and try to create a solution that can make an impact that matters to society. And here we are today.

What was the process like from the idea to the actual launch of Magos?

The early stages – especially for a deep tech startup – is a really tough process. All aspects from technology and business model development to fundraising, team structure and founders’ commitment are huge challenges that the team has to overcome.

To be more specific, the initial team was not really aligned – some people needed a full-time job, others already had a full-time job and needed to work part-time on the project. As a consequence, it wasn’t easy to plan and execute what was needed at the time being. When you face some critical issues with the team, you need to have a contingency plan on how to overcome them. Second, and very important, you need to secure funding, otherwise you cannot hire personnel and perform fundamental R&D activities. The founders need to undertake many technical and business responsibilities, and at the same time to cover any gaps in the team. Of equal importance is the hiring procedure – you need to understand at what stage you are, and what type of employees you need to hire.

Was it difficult to find like-minded people and create the team you have now?

This is of key importance; many people get involved in a startup to live the journey but when it comes to really sacrifice things like free time, professional career or a certain and safe professional environment, then the tough decision is whether they can make the start-up life a first priority. The same applies at Magos, at some time the founding team was composed of 5 people but then only 2 remained because some of them had other priorities (academic, enterprise career) and / or the timing was not correct. On top of that, a deep tech startup has some additional challenges that previous experience is really helpful for the sustainability of the whole endeavor.

What does the name Magos mean?

Magos in Greek mean “magician”. So, since our product is an advanced human computer interaction solution, it allows users to use their hands and fingers in Virtual Reality and perform “magic” stuff.

What problem does Magos solve?

Virtual reality has been so popular mainly because it enables us to experience two of the most important senses, the audio and vision through the current head-mounted-displays. But touch sense has lagged behind because of the current VR touch controllers that block the realistic interaction via fingers with the digital environments.

The limitations for sensation of touch in VR are clear. Let’s consider the extensively-used touch controllers which deliver hand presence and enable basic interactions in the VR environment. These touch controllers try to simulate the touch sense, blocking natural interaction via the fingertips. And when it comes to doing things in a natural way, nothing can compete with the human hand. As a result, the users are unable to interact naturally as they would in the real world, something that significantly affects the overall user experience (UX).

Based on the studies and reports of high-profile organizations, the sense of touch in VR has not yet reached the desired level. The immersive technologies market is looking for solutions to enhance the immersion. There are several components and functions (haptics, force feedback, field of view) whose improvement will benefit the VR ecosystem. However, there is one, the interaction via the user’s fingers, whose role is of major importance for VR to be more widely adopted.

In the previous years, several companies have made an effort to create VR experiences that closely emulate real experiences and senses in a VR environment. In 2013, Leap Motion (acquired by Ultrahaptics in 2019) released the Leap Motion Controller designed for hand tracking in virtual reality. In 2020, Facebook introduced the hand tracking feature on Oculus Quest, which allows users to operate the headset using hand gestures.

A solution that enables freedom of fingers movement has an important role to play. It is an essential aid for virtual simulations and training applications which prepare individuals to work and perform in highly demanding and stressful environments. Imagine a worker who could interact naturally using their fingers instead of holding a pair of touch controllers and having awkward feedback. Wouldn’t that change the whole experience? It would move training from an unrealistic or even negative event to a real experience with the exact feelings and conditions of the most demanding use cases. Hence, providing a fully immersive experience where the hands and fingers enable a realistic (“life-like") interaction within the VR environment. The experience of a trainee would never be the same again!

Magos is also working towards this direction, aiming to entirely revolutionize the interaction framework in the VR Training and Simulation applications. Magos platform is the next generation human-computer-interaction (HCI) solution.

How did you come to address the industries in which you are currently active?

We built a hand tracking technological product that can track the hand motions and the finger motions of your hand. This could be applied in many markets and has many applications. The industries we focus evolved along with the maturity of the solution; we tried the many applications (tele-robotics, hand rehabilitation, sign language to speech, 3D design)

So, we had to analyse and decide our focus areas.

Virtual Training and Simulation sector needs the Magos technology the most. And in particular, there are two specific sectors where Magos can bring the revolution in procedural training.

The first one is on the Aerospace, where trainee astronauts or pilots can interact via their finger, as they would in a real cockpit, and the same applies in the surgical training, that enables doctors to have a life-like interaction framework, and develop the muscle memory required to efficiently and accurately perform complex medical procedures.

What is happening in the industry in which you operate? What are the most important trends?

From market analysis and interviews with a variety of stakeholders (customers, experts, partners) we understood that the virtual training and simulation area is really mature and companies are already investing in the digital transformation of this sector using immersive technologies. Specifically, we see that Magos can have a major contribution to virtual training and simulation in aerospace, like pilot training and in health care with surgical training.

In the Aerospace industry pilots and astronauts are required to get familiar with cockpit setups and memorize a number of flows, when learning how to operate a new aircraft. Airlines and operators are always on the lookout to become more effective and efficient. As a consequence, pilots are turning to more interactive ways of learning such as VR (virtual reality) for cockpit procedural training. Such solutions save airlines & operators thousands of euros, by partially or even completely replacing the need for fixed-base simulators, suitable for the initial stages of a pilot’s conversion training.

The same more or less applies in the healthcare industry where doctors and surgeons are required to get familiar with complex surgical procedures that require flawless performance due to the risk of fatal mistakes. Current training is performed in real operating rooms in a real situation. If the operating procedure is rare, training is not happening at all and nowadays due to covid the training of doctors is a critical issue. So, clinics are looking for new training method in order to replace the traditional ones.

However, even if Virtual Reality Training has been so popular in recent years, because it enables users to interact via vision and audio senses, it cannot provide the same level of immersion in touch sense. This is because of the current state-of-the-art solution, the VR touch controllers, that blocks the natural and intuitive interaction via users’ fingers. Therefore, a solution that can simulate the touch sensation inside a virtual cockpit/operating room is of vital importance to the wider adoption of such solutions in the aerospace and healthcare sector.

Current trends align with our priorities since in these areas it is clear the offering of Magos (both in financial terms and in the efficiency in the procedure itself)

Who is your customer and what is your business model? (perhaps some examples from current partners would be helpful).

The business model depends on the end market or the application. For example, since we have a hardware product, it is very easy to see that we have one-off hardware sales. But this is not all, the software part of the product is provided with a license fee. So, the goal is to provide the solution as a Platform as a Service (PaaS) including one-off sale for the hardware and the license for the software.

We validated that in the medical sector the role of Magos solution is clear. We build partnerships with companies (OramaVR, 3D Organon) that develop applications for clinics and they already have firm requests from their customers about haptics and more intuitive input devices. In addition, we already have direct contracts with clinics in Ireland.

In Industry 4.0 we have approached large companies that have inhouse immersive labs and discussed the added value that Magos will bring to them (existing contract with Siemens).

In aerospace, the high priority today is the Pilot training. In this sector we need to focus on collaborations with companies (VR pilot, Flight Safety) that develop applications for pilot training and serve their existing or new clients. Already signed an agreement with VRpilot from Denmark.

Who are your competitors and how are you different from them?

The MAGOS Platform (a wearable mixture mechanical and electrical parts) is a Hardware-as-a-Service (HaaS) solution at TRL 7, comprised by the HW part - the MAGOS Gloves – and the SW tool – including its unique interactions scheme. The unique characteristic/ differentiator of the system is its great accuracy in finger tracking, something that constitutes a game changer, revolutionizing entirely the User eXperience (UX).

Specifically, based on the literature, a human hand has 16 joints that provide 27 Degrees of Freedom (DoF); a global solution would track all of them. However, some of these DoFs are of minor importance (joints with negligible motions that do not affect the overall motion of the fingers). Therefore, an optimum solution must be able to measure 22 DoFs, while the higher the accuracy in these measurements, the better and more immersive experience a user would feel; all these are important in order to increase the UX within a digital environment.

The IoT architecture of the MAGOS Glove incorporates components in order to measure the joint angles of fingers and the posture of the hand, transmit wireless the data to a local PC and receive the data required for the haptic feedback. In particular, the MAGOS Glove is comprised by four subsystems: (1) the finger tracking - unique value proposition -(patent pending), as it provides 1/20° accuracy in the measurement of each DoF, (2) a smart sensor that combines accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometer to track the hand’s orientation, (3) the 3D localization system, and (4) the haptic feedback. In the same time, the SW component (MAGOS Core) is a native SDK that includes (1) the User Interface (UI) which controls the HW, (2) the connection to 3rd party applications, e.g. Unity game engine, and (3) any other operation like data recording to be used in related applications.

MAGOS Platform offers 250 times greater accuracy than its closest competitor, while due to its patent pending technology, it can track 22 DoFs and at the same time provide the necessary data reliability upon which applications in an XR environment can be developed.

There are a lot of companies that try to improve the touch sensation in digital space (haptX, ManusVR, Senseglove, Dexta robotics)

Different kinds of sensors are being used like IMUs, magnetic, optical and stretch sensors, each with its own advantages; however, all key competitors are unable to provide reliable data because of their technology constraints: the major problem in solutions using IMUs is the error accumulation which require often recalibration, in electromagnetic solutions the interference by the external environment, in wireless solutions the occlusion effect (i.e. placing one hand below the other which results in no tracking) and in stretch sensors their low reliability.

The MAGOS Platform is the only one that gives you that truly natural and intuitive feeling of touch.

Where do you see Magos in 3-5 years?

Magos has all the potential to dominate the Virtual Training and simulation market starting from aerospace and healthcare, and gradually expanding in all other sectors and capturing a huge portion of the available market. In parallel additional areas and sectors will be targeted. Magos goal is to become the main human computer interaction solution in the web 3.0 era.

Why should investors choose you?

The weekly updates in the XR and metaverse area shows a huge opportunity in the sector.

A solution that enables freedom of fingers movement can play an important role in the future; it is an essential aid for many applications which prepare individuals to work and perform in highly demanding and stressful environments.

This would change the whole experience, as it would move training from an unrealistic or even negative event to a real experience.

By providing a fully immersive experience, where the hands and fingers have realistic interaction within the VR environment, a very important gap in the adoption of XR solutions for the digital training and other activities is closed.

Now is the timing of such wearable solutions to emerge and penetrate the market since many large corporations are adopting XR and analyzing their digital transformation with immersive technologies.

So, the ones that will join this effort will have multiple benefits:

From one side there are the financial benefits with multiple exit scenarios: sell the company to key players in the XR space (e.g. meta) or license the IP to specific market sectors. In parallel our goal is to take advantage of the unique technology proposition of Magos and achieve huge revenues streams.

On the other hand, there are prestige and fame benefits. Who would not like to be part of an effort that will create the best tech product of a market sector? (since I am an engineer, I would be at least enthusiastic).

Being part of a highly innovative product and a highly experienced team is life experience. Also, since the deep tech team is there there are plans of designing and developing other tech products (hardware and software). Finally, I would point out that everyone would get impressed by the processes of idea sharing and the mentality of a highly innovative team.

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Magos's round is public and available to all SeedBlink members. Access your account and learn more about this opportunity.

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