As things stand out today, virtual reality is limited on bringing visually immersive experiences mainly through head-mounted devices. All of that could change, however, with the addition of other gadgets that can expand a user’s VR engagement.
The next body parts that often come to mind when speaking about enhancing VR experiences are the hands. More often than not, VR users are faced with the dilemma of fiddling with controller buttons or operating a panel on the headset and that can be limiting as far as immersive experiences are concerned. In other words, it tells you that you’re still just using a device and not totally inside the virtual realm which is what the whole VR concept is all about.
But what if you could use your hands in a virtual environment the same way you do in the real world? That was the idea that inspired Chris Taylor and his team to create the VRgluv.
VRgluv, just as its name suggests, is a glove that gives its user the power to interact with objects in the virtual world with their hands like how they would in the real world. It works in conjunction with the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift headsets, and brings force feedback through embedded pressure sensors. What that means is you could literally touch and feel objects in a virtual environment. You can hold, grip, squeeze or crush items that you encounter. A video has been shared by the team which highlights the device’s features.
Each finger and wrist has high-fidelity positional tracking so the movements of your entire hand are reflected with high accuracy. The video below shows the VRgluv in action:
The gadget is also rechargeable and wireless while still being lightweight and comfortable to use. Aesthetically speaking, the VRgluv looks truly futuristic with its segmented appearance resembling the hand part of an advanced spacesuit.
The people behind the device are all VR gearheads and have been working constantly in the past months to develop the VRgluv. Taylor mentioned that the type of kit rolled out for testers is already the fourth prototype. They launched a Kickstarter campaign in order to garner a larger fund for the project, and they’ve since surpassed their $100,000 target. Individuals with the highest contributions will receive a heavily discounted pair, while consumers are also looking forward to bundle deals in the future wherein the VRgluv can be purchased together with a Rift or Vive.
The VRgluv is currently aimed at the gaming community and titles such as Drunken Bar Fight as well as Abode are already compatible with the device, with more games expected to follow. The team’s goal is to make the gadget a ‘drag and drop’ type of device for any VR game that’s currently out in the market. Nonetheless, Taylor emphasized that the technology have potential applications in other fields including medicine and education. They currently have a pending patent for the technology.
As of today, it remains to be seen if the glove will work with other, more consumer friendly VR devices like Google Cardboard and Samsung GearVR, so users of these gadgets will have to wait. Samsung has taken its own step for its GearVR though, and launched a new controller that works in tandem with the head-mounted display. The new hardware comes almost at the same time as the release of the firm’s Galaxy S8 which tech resource O2 highlights as sporting features like the infinity display and iris scanner. The former enhances the virtual experience of GearVR users through a bigger field of view, and the controller eliminates the old process of operation through the headset panel. With its own handheld controller, the GearVR can now be considered a candidate as well for VRgluv given that it integrates with Vive and Rift controllers. At this point, however, there are no news about whether the Korean tech giant will collaborate with the makers of VRgluv so as to allow compatibility with the GearVR.
The race is still on towards the perfection of virtual reality, but sufficed to say with the emergence of the VRgluv, totally immersive VR experiences are certainly not locked within the visual aspect anymore. Other senses such as smell and taste might still be difficult to achieve virtually, but it’s nice to know that the list has been narrowed down.
The VRgluv is available for pre-order starting at $299, and will come in retail for $579.