- Jonas Eriksson
- March 3, 2018 | 8 min
5 VR Technologies We Think Are Pretty Cool
Whilst we at Tobii are working on bringing Eye Tracking to PC games and VR, I have been wondering lately about what other interesting tech or accessories are currently available or in development, particularly in the realms of virtual reality.
Originally by Marcus Hoy
I could populate this list all by myself but, I thought it would be nice to ask around the office for some suggestions, so we can give you an idea of what VR technologies we think are pretty cool!
I have whittled it down to a top five, but you might also find some bonus suggestions peppered throughout.
Image from 3drudder.com
3drudder is a controller for your feet in VR and existing PC games that free your hands to shoot, push, pull, shield and win.
It’s very similar to a balance board, like you might find at the gym or maybe at the feet of a (probably gadget or fitness-loving) colleague who insists standing desk are way superior.
However, this is used whilst seated and uses 4 axes to move wherever you want in VR, forwards, backwards, strafe left/right, rotate or use the special “up and down movement” feature.
I really like this one, as for me, one of the big things in making VR and games feel more immersive is to give the player a more realistic feeling of moving their character through the gameworld. No more thumbsticks, please.
It’s also worth noting that it takes up very little space and is more affordable than one of those VR treadmill contraptions, thus being more accessible to a wider range of gamers!
I think 3drudder is surely… a step in the right direction (I’ll show myself out).
Still from VReeMotion Concept
Next up is VReeMotion, which is a full body experience, boasting to transform workouts into deeply immersive games you play. It comes with a bunch of features and it even has a sweat management system. As they point out,
Sweat is good, but when it compromises the comfort of the VR headset it detracts from the immersive experience.
I might still be a bit torn as to how good sweat actually is, but I agree I don’t want to feel uncomfortable whilst I’m gaming. Their approach of a multi-tiered system helps to mitigate this problem whilst adding additional enhancements to the immersion.
This seems like a cool piece of kit, although I imagine you would have to go to some kind of VR gym to use it, as I cannot see it being super affordable or space friendly to have at home. They have a great demo video, showing off a relaxed, scenic, ride through a forest and it would be interesting to see what other gaming experiences they can bring to this technology. Would it always be based around a sit-down cycle? Or perhaps your pedaling could power the movement of some huge mecha/robot? All’s good as long as your working out, right?
It’s also worth noting that one user commented on the demo video saying it would be great for someone with a degenerative SC condition — to which VReeMotion responded, mentioning that besides general fitness, they are also targeting physical and neuro rehab as well. Any technology that can be used to help assist those with disabilities is always a win in our books!
3. Vive Tracker
Image from Vive
The Vive Tracker is a no-brainer as it is able to track any virtual object in your scenes. It seems that, in order to work best, you need a peripheral that is developed with the idea of attaching the tracker to it , but otherwise the possibilities seem endless. There is already a tennis racket and gun peripheral you can attach it to, as well as additional straps so you can attach them to your arms and legs for a more full-bodied experience.
Another aspect I find really interesting is that you can attach the tracker to a DSLR camera and create mixed reality videos which your friends and family can watch and be part of too. This is super neat and whilst it’s awesome to take on the mantle of someone/thing else in these virtual worlds, the idea of being at the center of them yourself is really cool.
Overall, although I feel that accessories can run the risk of being gimmicky or toy-like (this does not stop me going nuts over Nintendo Labo), I appreciate the feeling of holding your racket, blaster, or whatever else it may be. This really helps deepen the immersion and (as Vive says) get a more complete experience.
Image from Gest
This still seems to be in a more conceptual stage right now, but from what I’ve seen, it looks very promising. I can only imagine the kind of stuff you’d be able to do with it in games. Granted, their focus at first glance doesn’t seem to be on games and more on productivity or work-related tasks, but they did hint at its use in virtual reality in the Gest introduction video.
In any case I really like the design of it. Sleek, discreet and doesn't look too weighty and as much as I love the more “out there” designs from VR-specific gloves, I think less is definitely more when it comes to immersion. I don’t want to feel like I have big ol’ robot gloves on. (Or do I? 🤔)
Image from the OMEN X page.
Last up is this really cool idea: a lightweight desktop PC that you can strap to your back to make use of VR without worrying about tripping over cables. Instead, you have the danger of walking in to doors or lamp posts.
I know you probably can’t take this outside (yet), but just imagine people walking around in entirely virtual worlds whilst walking in the real one. Joking aside, I think this way of doing VR could be the best if done right.
Instead of using an accessory to simulate walking, you could just walk. Here’s a wild thought: what if you could model virtual worlds on top of our own, using what’s already there as a skeleton? (OK, yes, I guess AR is already onto that.)
Back to (actual) reality for a moment, even though the OMEN X may not add anything new to VR-as-we-know-it, the versatility of being able to use it as a desktop, VR or couch gaming system (with the lack of cables or the feeling like you are tethered to a computer) is really nice too!
So, thats it! Those are the 5 Virtual Reality technologies (accessories, hardware…) that we think are pretty cool! This is only the tip of the iceberg and I am sure there are even more awesome things already out there or in the works.
Then I start to think about how this might all work together. Gest and 3drudder taking care of their respective body parts, Vive Tracker attached to your accessories… sprinkle a bit of eye tracking into that VR mix and BAM! Can you even imagine how deeply immersive things could become?
It might look a bit bizarre to onlookers, but I’d like to think it would be awesome for those experiencing it. Anyway, it’s the best we’ve got until we learn how to pull off full on Matrix/Sword Art Online kind of tech (preferably with less death).
Hopefully skills will be transferable. (Thanks, Giphy!)
There’s obviously no end to the amount of cool stuff emerging in the VR playing field. If you have any favorites we didn’t mention, we’d love to hear about it!