Although the rumble haptics in the Oculus Touch and HTC Vive virtual reality controllers do a good job of giving you an indication of something happening to your hand in virtual reality, they don’t have much nuance to them. A rumble here for this, a vibration here for that — but there are other haptic systems out there.
Take Tactical Haptics Reactive Grip motion controller. It uses sliding bars to generate the feeling of an item moving n the user’s hand. By all measures, the effect is quite realistic and one that would be fun to have as part of a VR controller. There are no consumer hardware releases with that sort of capability, but there is a Frankenstein mod that makes it a reality.
To show off its latest developments with controller feedback, Tactical Haptics attached its new Reactive Grip controller to Oculus’ Touch controller, letting users have that sensation of holding something for real, while also being able to translate their movements in virtual space.
The controllers are said to be rather long when fully set up, which would no doubt create some issues with balance and estimating your real hand position versus the virtual one, but RoadToVR says the effect is quite dramatic. Users can not only move their appendages around in VR, but when they use them, it actually feels like it, rather than pressing a button on a controller in your hand.
This is actually the third time that Tactical Haptics has made their controllers work with VR controllers — it previously attached them to the Vive’s wands and the Razer Hydra’s controllers. That suggests the potential is there for these sorts of control systems to be mashed together to create something far greater than the sum of their parts.
It might require some collaboration between the firms, and perhaps Tactical Haptics is hoping one of the technological giants it hopes to impress may look to buy it down the line. If that never happens, Tactical Haptics will continue to develop its controller and may offer it as an aftermarket solution to VR gamers.