Virtual reality is going to be great, especially after we learn how to jack into our neural system Matrix style. But until science figures out how to do it, we will have to do with various VR peripherals that translate virtual experiences into real life sensory input. Here are several VR peripherals to get excited about.
Infinadeck is the real-deal omnidirectional treadmill. It might still be in the prototype stage, but it‘s already a better, more realistic walking simulator than the likes of Virtuix Omni. Most other walking simulators only simulate walking on some sort of non-stick surface, but Infinadeck is the real deal. Just strap yourself in and spend the day exploring a VR world. It would probably do wonders with other haptic peripherals. And you‘re actually exercising while you play. Athletic Skyrim players are coming!
Tactical Haptics Reactive Grip Controller
Tactical Haptics are making a Razr Hydra (for tracking) integrated controller that provides feedback from items held in the player’s virtual hand. It does that via four sliders built around the handle. By controlling how these sliders move back and forth, the controller can simulate the feeling of the sword moving in your hand as you stab an enemy or the recoil of a gun. Sure, you’re not risking the gun jumping out of your hand and smacking you in the face, but it will be realistic enough for you to understand what’s happening. The best thing is that it simulates the feeling of moving a flail around, which is something we always wanted to do if not for the fear of hitting ourselves in the face.
Manus took a look at IR hand tracking and said, “naw, that will never work”. That’s why they made gloves that track the position of your hands and fingers. It uses HTc Vive controllers strapped to the wrist and the position of the headset to determine movement and more: Manus is going to remove the “floating hands” syndrome that plagues many games and VR simulations, where the controller only tracks the hands and the head, while the rest of the arm just flaps around. This will help immersion immensely. And you’ll be able to point your fingers at things, too!
Feelreal Mask transforms your VR headset into some sort of high-tech ninja mask. But it has more functions than just making you look like a sedentary ninja on drugs. Feelreal wants to help you get immersed in virtual reality by providing the sensations of smell, wind, humidity, vibration and more! It doesn’t touch your face (so you’re not actually feeling like a cyborg ninja), and it features seven changeable smell cartridges (maybe developers will stop adding sewer levels to games). It has microcoolers to simulate wind, microheaters for heat, ultrasonic ionizers to produce water mist, vibration engines, Bluetooth microphone, four hours of battery time… the games will need to play catch up with this baby! It fits the Oculus, as well as Samsung Gear VR, Sony Morpheus and Zeiss VR One.
For those who don’t want to sacrifice a large part of our living space for a VR omnitreadmill, there’s the 3DRudder. It looks like a piece of exercise equipment, but it’s actually a controller for your feet. You tilt the controller with your feet to control the movements in game. Eventually, it can become as instinctual as walking, with the added bonus of a lower price tag and not actually having to exercise while you play games! It’s somewhat limited – as all VR pieces that don’t rely on you to be standing up are – but it’s a nice compromise for those who can’t afford Vive’s room-wide tracking.
And that’s only five of many crazy and innovative peripherals that can be paired with present and future headsets. These items can also inspire new game developers. Do you feel inspired? It’s the easiest time to get into VR, with most of the market focusing on mobile VR (like the smell-o-mask enabled Gear VR), games engines being free, and low-polygon (VR loves low-poly) models freely available from online marketplaces like CGTrader. Just take the first step and they’ll be developing peripherals for your games, too.