HapTech, formerly Striker VR, are specialising in haptic and recoil simulation for use in gaming peripherals. Ben Lang got to try out the company’s new prototype and chat with Founder and President Kyle Monti.
We first covered HapTech, formerly known as Striker VR, back in June of last year. The company’s industrial arm, Dekka Technologies, specialise in training weaponry for the military, hardware designed to give new recruits a feel for the real power of recoil felt when firing weapons in reality. The firm saw the rise of virtual reality as an opportunity to enter the consumer market and started designing peripherals that could more cost effectively and more practically be shipped to consumers for that space.
The last time Ben caught up with the company was at Oculus Connect last year, where they demonstrated a prototype gun, replicating Halo‘s famous M6 Magnum pistol. The device has an impressive kick and featured a neat reload mechanic, activated by slapping your hand up against the underside of the weapon’s clip (see video below).
At GDC 2015, they’re back – now branded as HapTech, with a new consumer product lead focus and a brand new early prototype to show. “..we’re in the process of re-branding ourselves. We’re getting a little bit away from the military side, we want to do more gaming things like magic wands, tennis rackets, baseball bats like we’ve been saying we’re gonna do.” The company is apparently working on demonstration products that incorporate their haptic recoil system into a broader range of gaming peripherals, but at GDC they’re sticking with what they know best – guns.
HapTech’s demo setup at GDC comprised a DK2 headset and a new, 3D printed ‘futuristic’ assault rifle style weapon. This is another concious effort by the team to segregate their military from their consumer products. “‘HapTech, is one of the way we’re going to distance ourselves from the military a little bit and start ‘gamifying’ ..” Both the DK2 and the weapon use Sixense STEM units to provide positional tracking and orientation of the weapon in virtual space as the player moves around.
The tech demo on show is part of a collaboration with development house Otherworld, who took care of producing the first person shooter demonstration and assisted in integrating the STEM tracking with the new weapon prototype. “..we gave them the [3D] model for the gun that we 3D printed … and they skinned it and made it look really cool in the game”.
Despite the new focus on bringing the device to the consumer market, when Ben remarked that the new prototype felt even better, Monti confirms “That was something we really tried to focus on so that people felt satisfied in the game …” What’s more, the new prototype is customisable to your tastes in terms of recoil feedback. “..you can change the weight on the slider, you can change how long it’s linear path is to give it a bigger kick so it can accelerate faster and you can actually even bump up the motors.”
That’s not the limit to HapTech’s vision for a peripheral that is adaptable. Monti speaks of a multi-use device with multiple grab-points that alter the model the game uses for the weapon. So, if you’re in game and switch between a pistol and a shotgun by altering your stance and grip, it’ll actually feel like it when you fire “..in the game it’ll transform the model and also on the fly re-program the motors.”
All of this sounds extremely promising, but Monti saves a surprise for Ben towards the end of the conversation and that’s around the question of cost. “A complete system, with all the electronics and the battery, tracking and everything we hope to make a consumer offering around $60.” An impressive and exciting prospect indeed.
If HapTech can bring this level of recoil realism to a complete consumer product, complete with tracking at the price level they’re talking of, it’s hard to imagine how they’d not have a hit on their hands. We’ll keep track of HapTech for more developments as they arise.
Our thanks to Kyle Monti for his time. You can check out HapTech’s website here.