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Virtual Reality News

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    Oculus says they could have shipped Touch alongside the launch of the Rift back in April, but explains why they’ve been biding their time. Despite delaying their Touch VR motion controller to the latter half of 2016, Oculus says the hardware could have gone out the door on day one. “It was possible for us to launch the first Touch device when we showed it, and everyone said ‘this is awesome,’ we could have shipped it,” said Jason Rubin, Head of Content at Oculus, speaking with Road to VR at Gamescom 2016 earlier this month. Although a strong hardware foundation was there, the company didn’t want to put the hardware out before they felt there was an equally strong software base to support it, Rubin explains. “[If we launched Touch with the Rift] there would have been a bunch of demos and a few good titles (like Job Simulator and Fantastic Contraption) […] we wanted to give our developers enough time to really create a launch line up, a good slate of titles that would last hours as opposed to minutes of enjoyment, and we think that that takes time. So more than tweaking the hardware, we wanted to give the software some time.” Given that decision, Oculus opted to continue tweaking the Touch design to improve both ergonomics and performance as developers continued to toil away on the software side. “Developers are really happy with what they’ve got, and we didn’t want to release it until we were happy with the ergonomics, every button was in the right place, everything was perfect,” Rubin said. Indeed, we’d seen several iterations of Touch now, with varying button placements. Rubin also said that the very latest iteration was “pretty much the final iteration” and that it had improved tracking performance and range. Although Oculus said they wouldn’t openly sell a Touch development kit available (as they had done with the Rift), they committed to sending out a substantial 5,000+ dev kits to select developers prior to the launch. While the company still hasn’t announced a price or release date more specific than ‘Q4 of 2016,’ we’re expecting to hear much more about the controllers at the forthcoming Oculus Connect developer conference on October.

    The post Oculus Explains Why They Didn’t Launch Touch with the Rift (Even Though They Could Have) appeared first on Road to VR.

    Founder reveals the Oculus Touch 'Half Moon' Prototype in 2015 | Photo courtesy Oculusvalve-chaperoneoculus-touch-prototype-dev-kitsFounder reveals the Oculus Touch 'Half Moon' Prototype in 2015 | Photo courtesy Oculusvalve-chaperoneoculus-touch-prototype-dev-kits

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    While Oculus has been drumming up its soon to launch Touch VR controller for many months now, the company doesn’t expect motion input to supersede the gamepad gameplay that Rift users are using today. The introduction of an Xbox One gamepad as the default input device for the Oculus Rift at launch came as a surprise to many, especially given prior comments from the company’s founder singling out the gamepad as a poor choice for VR input. Meanwhile, the HTC Vive, which launched with motion controls in the box, has garnered praise for its immersive input. Combined with Oculus’ announcement of Touch all the way back in 2015, Rift users have been very eager to get their hands into virtual reality. But that doesn’t mean VR titles designed for gamepads will go the wayside, says Oculus. Speaking with Road to VR at Gamescom 2016 last month, Jason Rubin, Head of Content at Oculus said that the company doesn’t expect gamepads to disappear from VR once Touch controllers hits the market. “…we’re really strong proponents of the gamepad. We think there are some types of games that play incredibly well with gamepads, and we don’t believe gamepads are going away,” Rubin said. “There are developers that want us to continue shipping a gamepad [in the box with the Oculus Rift headset]. Whether or not we continue forever or just a small amount of time is undecided and unannounced, but gamepads have a valid place in the ecosystem.” Rubin pointed to the apparent success of gamepad-only titles found on the Oculus Home platform, and says he remains skeptical of locking into a sort of standardized VR input at this stage in the ecosystem. “We don’t share the belief that ‘if it’s a gamepad, it’s an atrocity and not a VR title’, and the proof of that is the ratings consumers are giving the games that we have out right now. In the long run it’s hard to say what the final control spec will be, or if there will be a final control spec,” he said. He elaborated on what he called “VR purists,” and suggested that some were applying a double-standard to VR games designed for the gamepad, saying that many of the people hating on games lacking motion controls also wanted to play them themselves. “There are VR purists that believe ‘if it doesn’t have motion controls, it isn’t VR’. I happen to not agree with that, and I don’t think Oculus agrees with that. Interestingly, many of the same people are dying to play our titles brought out on gamepad. They’re extremely vocal about [them],” Rubin said. “So you really can’t have it both ways. Titles that we brought out are some of the best reviewed, most full titles out there, and at the same time there’s a small population that believes VR has to be a certain amount of purity. VR is much broader, and we think the audience is broader, and we think what VR represents is much broader than some other people.” Rubin went on to point to the company’s work with Samsung to launch Gear VR—which is a relatively affordable VR headset compared to the likes of high-priced units like the Rift and Vive—as an exemplar of the company’s “broader” approach to VR. Oculus says Touch will launch in Q4 of this year, but has yet to announce a price of specific date. We’re expecting to hear more on Touch at the Oculus Connect developer conference in October. Additional reporting by Scott Hayden

    The post Oculus Affirms Commitment to Gamepad Input As Touch Launch Nears, “we don’t believe gamepads are going away” appeared first on Road to VR.

    oculus-touch-prototype-dev-kits-captionoculus-rift-cv1-e3-2015-ben-langoculus touch hands on e3 2015 (3)oculus-touch-prototype-dev-kits-captionoculus-rift-cv1-e3-2015-ben-langoculus touch hands on e3 2015 (3)

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    I had a chance to try out the Manus VR hand-tracked controller on the expo floor of GDC this year and saw that there a couple of really strong use cases for having your hands and fingers tracked in VR. You can be a lot more expressive within social VR, and in mixed reality experiences where passive haptic feedback is available, having your hands tracked can actually increase the level of embodied presence. I had a chance to catch up with the lead designer of Manus VR, Stijn Stumpel, at GDC where we compared Manus VR to Leap Motion, talked about how the flex sensors work, the use cases where having tracked hands makes sense, their extremely polished demo called Pillow’s Willow, and where they’re going in the future. LISTEN TO THE VOICES OF VR PODCAST At GDC, Manus VR strapped an HTC Vive controller to the back of my wrist, and it gave a lot more consistent tracking of the location of my hands as a result; I didn’t have to worry about keeping my hands within my field of view like I do with optically tracked solutions like Leap Motion. There was some uncanniness in not being able to actually physically grab objects, which can break presence. And I also experienced a lot more than 20ms of latency in my finger movements, which was a presence breaker. But I was told that they are able to achieve much better latency performance in their lab environment. Manus VR just announced in a press release that their “gloves are being used in experiments to train NASA astronauts in mixed reality to prepare them for the International Space Station.” Here’s some footage of some of that training that they’ve released. They also announced that Manus VR is joining the first SteamVR Tracking class being taught by Synapse on September 12th in order to create a version of their glove that has the SteamVR Tracking sensors built in. So I expect to see the next iteration remove the stopgap solution of attaching a SteamVR controller onto the back of your arm. With the increased amount of tracking on the arm, then they might also start to be able to do a lot more accurate inverse kinematic tracking of your body and be able to have a powerful invocation of the virtual body ownership illusion. Support Voices of VR Subscribe on iTunes Donate to the Voices of VR Podcast Patreon Music: Fatality & Summer Trip

    The post Tracking Your Hands Using Flex Sensor Technology with Manus VR appeared first on Road to VR.

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    Swedish robotics specialists are working on a system to allow game developers to deliver realistic, realtime and dynamic interaction animations, so that your VR hands can finally grasp in-game objects convincingly. By the end of this year, every major virtual reality platform will have its own motion control solution, from the Vive’s SteamVR devices to Oculus’ Touch, but whilst these controller give developers the ability to deliver near 1:1 mapped input in VR, the virtual results of those actions, particularly with our hands, can look, well, pretty ‘shonky’. Objects we pick up often just stick incongruously to the in-game controller models and, should the developer have included hand models, snap into a predefined multi-purpose positions which is more often than not pretty unconvincing. Hand presence isn’t just about accuracy of their position in space then, but also about representing the myriad subtleties our endlessly adaptable digits are capable of. For example, observe yourself picking up a tumbler glass, your fingers will wrap the cylinder securely, picking a wine glass though and you may clasp more daintily by the stem. Not only that, if your grip will change depending where on that object you choose to hold it. The sorts of subtleties we take for granted in every day life are generally deemed expendable in games and ‘brute forcing’ a real solution – say a canned animation for every world object – is clearly out of the question. Now, Swedish company Gleechi claim to be well on their way to resolving these issues. The company claims that the animation systems they’re building are based on 8 years of robotic research conducted by the dedicated research group at KTH, Sweden’s leading technical university. Gleechi’s says that its VirtualGrasp product resolves the need for labour intensive manual animations for the hands by using a “predictive and adaptive algorithm” which analyses the ‘physical’ properties of a virtual object, deciphering the most appropriate and realistic grip formation for the in-game hand model and snapping to that position. The software is still in an early state, but as you can see in the video embedded at the top of the page, it really does seem to work and seeing it in action you realise just how poor most in-game interactions look. Clearly VirtualGrasp is a technology with general purpose benefits for many games, but in VR that extra piece of the realism puzzle, one that further ties your physical self to your virtual self, may have more significant implication for immersion and presence. If you’d like to know more about VirtualGrasp, head over to the company’s website here.

    The post VirtualGrasp Aims to Finally Deliver Realistic Hand Interactions in VR appeared first on Road to VR.


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    Today at the Steam Dev Days conference in Seattle, Valve is showing off brand new prototypes of its Steam VR controllers. While the original VR controllers that ship with the HTC Vive are undoubtedly functional, it’s widely agreed that Oculus’ forthcoming ‘Touch’ controllers are a big step forward in ergonomics. That gap may soon be a thing of the past, as Valve is showcasing new VR controller prototypes at Steam Dev Days which offer a much different take on the design. The new SteamVR controller prototypes have a much smaller footprint handprint than what’s in the hands of HTC Vive users today. The prototypes are not so much held as they are (optionally) gripped; a band hooking over the side of the user’s palm connects the core of the controller to a sort of backhand gripper which appears to keep the controller attached to the hand even while it isn’t being held. The controllers can be seen dotted in uncovered SteamVR Tracking sensors, just like prototypes of the original controller. One source from the event says that each controller has 21 sensors. Important thing here- you can close your hand halfway. #SteamDevDays — Fox B @SteamDevDays (@FoxBuchele) October 12, 2016 Developers at the conference today who have tried the controller say that users can ‘let go’ of the controller while in use, and it stays attached to the hand. This allows virtual objects to be thrown with the aid of the natural muscle-memory of opening one’s hand as they throw, an instinct that must be subdued with other controllers to save from throwing the controller clear across the room (always to hit a TV, somehow). Always wear your wrist straps, folks. "Being actually able to throw things and let go…it's huge" @saniul on the new #Vive controllers #SteamDevDays — Eva @ SteamDevDays (@downtohoerth) October 12, 2016 It appears that the controller may also support variable states between ‘open hand’ and ‘gripped hand’, reflecting a more natural connection between the user’s real and virtual hand positions. The Valve VR controller prototypes appear to be 3D printed and feature a trigger and trackpad with three face buttons surrounding it. Some photos appear to show an array of LEDs across the front of the controller though the component’s function remains unknown. With Valve not inviting any press to Steam Dev Days, further details surrounding the controller are thin; it’s not currently known what the company’s plans are for the controller going forward, but we’ll keep you in the know as we learn more.

    The post First Look at Valve’s New VR Controller Prototype appeared first on Road to VR.

    Photo courtesy Shawn Whitinghtc-vive-pre-controller-3valve-vr-controller-prototype-3valve-vr-controller-prototype-4valve-vr-controller-prototypePhoto courtesy Shawn Whitinghtc-vive-pre-controller-3valve-vr-controller-prototype-3valve-vr-controller-prototype-4valve-vr-controller-prototype

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    Microsoft Research has devised two novel methods for more realistic haptic feedback on virtual reality controllers. They call it NormalTouch and TextureTouch. Haptic feedback in general-purpose controllers has been limited to vibration feedback since the introduction of the Rumble Pak for the Nintendo 64 in 1997. Vibration motors come in all shapes and sizes, the most popular being the Eccentric Rotating Mass (ERM) motor, found most modern gamepads. Mobile phones often use very small ERM motors, or. more recently, linear actuators. Linear actuators tend to offer more haptic ‘detail’ and responsiveness, as can be found in Apple’s ‘Taptic Engine’, the HTC Vive controllers, an the Oculus Touch controllers. While vibrations as haptic feedback is the current state of the art in the consumer realm, limitations remain. Tactile feedback has proven to be effective across a wide variety of applications, but if you’re looking for significant force or resistance in your haptics, you need kinesthetic feedback. This is commonly available through force-feedback controllers, which tend to be designed for a specific task, such as joysticks for flight/space simulators, and wheels for driving simulators. The wealth of powerful haptic hardware on the market is one of the main reasons why flight and driving simulations are already so effective in VR. The closest product to a general-purpose kinesthetic controller is probably still the Novint Falcon, first shown in 2006, but this is also fairly limited, as it needs to be attached to a desk. Microsoft Research’s new experimental controllers bring kinesthetics into the VR space, offering two types of force-feedback applied to fully-tracked motion controllers. NormalTouch uses three servo motors to operate a small disc with tilt and extrusion movements, and TextureTouch uses a bank of 16 servos to operate a 4×4 pixel array of small blocks that move up and down to correspond to virtual shapes and structures. The result is a feeling of physical resistance as you drag your finger across a virtual shape, with enough fidelity to actually convey a sense of touch and an understanding of an object’s form and texture. In both controllers, the feedback surface acts on a single finger or thumb, which may limit the practical use cases. But the key point is that this type of feedback is normally the domain of dedicated devices, elaborate gloves, or exoskeletons, whereas Microsoft Research’s designs are based on a normal handheld controller, which Michael Abrash, Oculus’ Chief Scientist, recently suggested could remain the standard input for VR for decades to come. Texture is one thing, but offering real resistance (where the virtual world can push back on you) is still a pipe dream however, as there is nothing preventing the user from clipping through objects with today’s VR controllers. But with more realistic haptics, the desire to clip through something is reduced, in the same way that more realistic VR visuals often prevents people from trying to walk through virtual objects. In their testing, the Microsoft Research team developed a ‘penetration compensation’ technique, that made it appear that the user’s hand was not clipping, by decoupling them from the real tracking location. The finger is the most sensitive part of the hand to kinesthetic feedback, so this is effective, although it remains to be seen how this haptic-visual mismatch could work in a less controlled environment. The research group’s findings are promising even at this early stage. Three tests were run—targeting accuracy, tracing accuracy and fidelity assessment—and both controllers were used, comparing them to vibration-only feedback and visual-only feedback. Both new haptic feedback techniques demonstrated advantages over vibration and visual only tests, despite some of the limitations of the prototypes causing issues. The designs can no doubt be improved dramatically in terms of ergonomics, range of movement, responsiveness and detail, but already testers reacted positively to the heightened sense of touch. It was noted that the fact it’s already effective demonstrates the overriding power of the visual system, and that perhaps fully detailed or accurate feedback isn’t too critical, as the visual system automatically makes the corrections. Perhaps the toughest challenge of this project is in improving the physical design. Any device with a large number of mechanical parts always comes at a cost, usually in the form of weight and noise, and that’s certainly the case here. If this technology was utilized for a consumer product it would need to get smaller while staying quiet and reliable. It’s an area of research that is worth pursuing further, but it’s unclear at this stage how likely these prototype haptic technologies are to find their way into a real product.

    The post Microsoft Research Demonstrates VR Controller Prototypes With Unique Haptic Technology appeared first on Road to VR.


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    Tactical Haptics, a company pioneering a novel form of haptic feedback which can create compelling sensations that go far beyond rumble, announced today it has raised $2.2 million to create a development kit of a haptic VR controller as a stepping stone to an eventual consumer product. Tactical Haptics is one of the OGs of […]

    The post Tactical Haptics Raises $2.2 Million to Build Haptic VR Controller Dev Kit appeared first on Road to VR.

    Tactical Haptics Reactive Grip controller prototype circa 2014Tactical Haptics Reactive Grip controller prototype circa 2014

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    The new Leap Motion Mobile Platform consists of hardware and software optimised for VR and AR hand tracking on mobile devices. Building on the success of the original Leap Motion device, the brand new hardware aims to be tightly integrated into future mobile VR headsets. Designed as a natural motion interface for PC and Mac, […]

    The post Leap Motion’s New Mobile Hand-tracking Sensor Brings 180-degree Field of View appeared first on Road to VR.

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    Ilium VR are working on a new VR-centric gun peripheral which plans to use Valve’s SteamVR ‘Lighthouse’ tracking to bring realistic weapon control to virtual reality games. Shooting things in games is cool. Shooting things in VR can be infinitely cooler. Add in a dedicated controller that gives you the physical feel of a weapon and […]

    The post ‘Athena’ is a New Lighthouse Tracked VR Gun Controller from Ilium VR appeared first on Road to VR.

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    At GDC 2017, developers Impulse Gear confirmed that their VR shooter Farpoint has Co-op, and will launch in a bundle with the PS VR Aim Controller on May 16th. An ‘unnerving space adventure set on a hostile alien world’, Farpoint is a free-movement FPS exclusive to PlayStation VR. Build from the group up for PlayStation […]

    The post PSVR Aim Controller Launches with ‘Farpoint’ on May 16th, Co-op Confirmed appeared first on Road to VR.

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    Tactical Haptics, developers of the Reactive Grip controller, are showing their latest prototypes now with attachments for the Vive Tracker, Oculus Touch, and a custom-built SteamVR Tracking solution. The controller employs a unique solution to haptic feedback which aims to recreate the feeling of friction against objects in your hands rather than just rumble. The […]

    The post Hands-on: Reactive Grip Haptic Controller Prototype with Vive Tracker, Touch, and Custom SteamVR Tracking appeared first on Road to VR.

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    Qualcomm has debuted an updated version of their VR Headset Reference Design now with Leap Motion’s new 180-degree hand-tracking to bring gesture control to mobile VR headsets. The new headset and Leap Motion tracking module was shown off during last week’s GDC 2017. Qualcomm’s VR Headset Reference Design has been upgraded to the company’s new […]

    The post Leap Motion’s New 180-degree Hand-tracking Comes to Qualcomm’s Latest VRDK Headset appeared first on Road to VR.

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    VRgluv has blown past its $100,000 funding goal in 56 hours on their Kickstarter page, with 27 days still to go. The product is described as the “first affordable force feedback gloves” that feature “total hand tracking, full force feedback, and pressure sensitivity”. Update (4/28/17, 12:39PM PT): VRGluv has now exceeded its $100,000 Kickstarter goal, […]

    The post VRgluv Force-feedback Glove Blasts Past $100K Kickstarter Goal in 56 Hours appeared first on Road to VR.

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    Today Microsoft has unveiled their Windows Mixed Reality motion controllers. The controllers fill in a major gap in Microsoft’s strategy to become the “most complete platform across the broadest range of mixed reality devices and experiences.”  While we expect to hear a lot more about the company’s VR controllers at the Build conference today, Microsoft has […]

    The post Microsoft Reveals Motion Controllers for Mixed Reality Headsets Coming This Holiday appeared first on Road to VR.

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    Having done the core R&D for what would become the Vive controllers, Valve is continuing to iterate on VR input. The company’s new ‘Knuckles’ controllers are not so much ‘held’ as they are ‘worn’, offering users a natural grab and release motion without dropping the controller. Since their debut toward the end of 2016 at […]

    The post Valve’s Knuckles Controllers Get Ergonomic Improvements, Begin Arriving at Devs’ Doorsteps appeared first on Road to VR.

    Image courtesy Cloudhead GamesImage courtesy Cloudhead Games

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    New footage of Valve’s new ‘Knuckles’ controllers has emerged over the past few days, as developers begin to test out the new device. The ‘next-gen’ SteamVR controller prototypes represent a major advancement over the current Vive motion controllers, with five finger tracking and an ‘open hand’ grip. The new controllers have been shipping to select […]

    The post Developer Videos Show Valve’s Knuckles Controllers in Action appeared first on Road to VR.

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    Microsoft debuted the lengthily-named “Windows Mixed Reality motion controllers” back in May, but until now we haven’t had a chance to actually try them out. During a recent meeting with Microsoft in San Francisco, I got to try the VR controllers for the first time paired with the Acer Windows VR headset. Microsoft’s VR controllers […]

    The post Hands-on: Microsoft’s “Mixed Reality” VR Motion Controllers appeared first on Road to VR.

    Image courtesy MicrosoftImage courtesy Microsoft

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    Earlier this week we shared our first hands-on with Microsoft’s VR controllers, but at the time the company didn’t allow us to document the session with photos or videos. Now, a developer with the controllers has produced a handy overview that shows how they work and gives a glimpse of them in action. The Windows […]

    The post Developer Shows Microsoft’s VR Controllers in Action appeared first on Road to VR.

    Image courtesy Sean OngImage courtesy Sean Ong

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    In a study lead by Eisuke Fujinawa at the University of Tokyo, a team of students created a procedure for designing compact VR controllers that feel physically larger. Exploring the concept of ‘haptic shape illusion’, the controllers have data-driven, precise mass properties, aiming to simulate the same feeling in the hand as the larger objects […]

    The post ‘Haptic Shape Illusion’ Allows VR Controllers to Simulate Feel of Physically Larger Objects appeared first on Road to VR.

    Image courtesy Fujinawa et al.Image courtesy Fujinawa et al.

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    Tactical Haptics’ newly developed haptic controller prototype uses mechanical sockets that allow them to be mated in different configurations on-the-fly, in order to match a particular virtual interaction more closely than standard VR motion controllers. The controllers incorporate the company’s ‘Reactive Grip’ technology, a unique form of haptic feedback. San Francisco-based Tactical Haptics is debuting […]

    The post Tactical Haptics’ New Prototype VR Controller Shapeshifts to Fit Your Game appeared first on Road to VR.

    Image courtesy Tactical HapticsImage courtesy Tactical Haptics

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