If you’ve been following virtual reality news and opinion recently, you’ll have noticed a definite switch of focus for those seeking VR nirvana. Whilst there are myriad hard problems surrounding convincing your mind it occupies a virtual space, the visual element, provided by a VR headset display has now approached the point where presence is now possible. So, once you’ve solved the issue of presenting the virtual world to a player, what’s next on the list?

In one word, input. Whilst VR headset development has seen incredible progress since Oculus launched its Kickstarter, arguably a killer solution for reading a player’s actions has yet to reach the zenith. That’s not to say we haven’t seen progress, with companies like Sixense, YEI, Virtuix, Cyberith and Tactical Haptics all offering different ingenious solutions to the same problem and all seeing the light of day in the last 18 months. We’ve come a long way to be sure.

controlvr-gloves1Well now another solution has launched and it bears more resemblance to how you always imagined your VR gear to look. Control VR is a motion / gesture capture system comprising motion sensors and unique (at present in the consumer space at least) data gloves which track your upper body and finger movement at rotational accuracy, Control VR claim, down to the 10th of a degree.

Hands-on: HaptX's VR Glove is the Closest I've Come to Touching the Virtual World

Using IMU sensors the developers claim were developed in conjunction with DARPA (a claim we’ve yet to verify), sensors at your elbow joint and what looks to be an optical based tracker which sits at chest level attached to a small harness. The video shows demo equipment with mounted webcams, we assume to allow tracking of the player’s core.

The result is an incredibly cool looking way to reach into and intimately interact with the virtual world.

Technical details on the Kickstarter website are a little thin on the ground, but we dug a little deeper into Control VR’s origins.

The IGS Glove Becomes Control VR

Some of you may have seen a video circulating a few months ago demonstrating a great new data glove, being marketed squarely at the virtual reality enthusiast. The IGS Glove from a company called Synertial (aka Animazoo) seems to be the data glove component used in the Control VR system. The below video, from the company’s website, demonstrates in more detail the skeletal modelling used to achieve the impressive looking tracking.

..and in an earlier Control VR video, the IGS monicker is clearly seen on the player’s gloves:

What’s more, the listed CEO (Alex Sarnoff) and CTO (Ali Kord) for Control VR are both founders of Synertial / Animazoo. So it seems Control VR is a way for the company to enter the commercial VR market.

Synertial’s website has a slightly more technical description of the glove itself than available on the Kickstarter page:

Synertial’s systems use IMUs (Inertial Measurement Units) which make use of both tri-axial MEMS Gyroscopes and tri-axial MEMS Accelerometers in addition to magneto-resistive magnetometers. The combination of data from all three of these sensors overcomes the issues involved in traditional hand and finger capture.

An impressive array of IMUs, a reflection of how complex tracking the intricacies of the human hand really are. And, if the system is as impressive in person as it is in the extremely promising video demonstrations, we may have just edged even closer to that VR nirvana.

If you’re interested in backing the project, be warned that this cutting-edge tech doesn’t come cheap. The one arm and body tracking solution will set you back $350 and if you want both your hands in the game, the two arm tier is $600. My estimation though is that probably represents pretty good value for money considering the sheer number of sensors in involved here. The company does however point out that its commercial offerings (as detailed on their Kickstarter roadmap) will be much cheaper, and given the rapidly decreasing costs and rising accuracy of emerging IMU technology, we’re inclined to believe them.

Hands-on: HaptX's VR Glove is the Closest I've Come to Touching the Virtual World

Head over to the Kickstarter page here if you’re interested in backing the project. After only a few hours live, the project has already raised nearly $30k of its $250k goal. We’ll keep you in the loop on the campaigns progress.

Are you thinking of backing the project or have you already? Let us know your thoughts on the comments below.

This article may contain affiliate links. If you click an affiliate link and buy a product we may receive a small commission which helps support the publication. See here for more information.

  • elecman

    This is exciting news. It seems that hand tracking is finally affordable

  • Caliber Mengsk

    O.O….. That’s…. so expensive at $600 for both hands… -_- that’s what you get from a company that charged $13,000 for the last glove. Greedy bastards. It’d still be less then $300 for both gloves with a 100% (double material/labor costs). -_- This kind of thing sickens me. Not using their super stupid expensive tilt sensors, you could probably drop the cost to less then $50 for both gloves, using things like velostat flex sensors (which are less then 0.05 cents {usd} per finger costing 0.50 cents for both hands instead of around $100), potentiometers, etc. -_- when people rely on the same technology they used 5-10 years ago (which by the way, these people are), then there is something wrong when you are trying to break into a new tech type of market. I wouldn’t support these guys even if I had the extra money.

    I understand their glove, how it works, and the technology in it. So I’m not just a rambling bafoon. $600 is not low enough of an entry level price for this. That makes the cost of entry to vr at $900-$1000 (including shipping) before even buying the computer (another $1000 or more for what you’d need to really run a vr setup). They are trying to ride on the fact that their fingers bend, to make it more expensive. -_- Sad part is, the $600 price tag is the kickstarter price tag. More then likely after they go into full production they will increase the cost. Don’t trust these guys with cost for quality. You’ll just get cost. Wait a year, and see what else there is. I hear priovr and sixense are both working on something, and I doubt they will charge $300 per hand.

    • Sven Viking

      $600 is too much for me, also, and I agree on waiting. If you can do roughly the same thing for ~$25 per glove, though, why not start your own Kickstarter project charging $100 or more per glove and make a fortune while still saving people money? Everyone wins.

    • Michael

      I also agree that it is pricy. A full body IMU suit with 12 sensors is $370. This system with the IGS glove with the color bands from the video uses 7 + 1 IMU’s for the elbows. Subtract a leap motion for the optical for $80. That means they are charging about $65 per IMU where prioVR is charging $30 per IMU. More than 2x the price per IMU, and are they really that much better then YEI’s? doubtful.

  • PsychShaman

    Finally…this was the peripheral that I’ve been waiting for. It’s a tad expensive, but I’m in. To those that are going to wait, YEI has stated they are inerested in creating a glove after the suits. I imagine it would be less expensive. Anyway, really hope this kickstarts, awesome news!

  • deadering

    Far too expensive to be practical right now, but definitely a step in the right direction. I’m looking forward to seeing how this technology evolves.

    For now I think the STEM system is the best option for VR motion control.

  • Jo Yardley

    Very interesting and of course a lot better than controllers, joysticks or a mouse.
    But expensive and I also feel that motion sensing input devices such as the Kinect and Leap motion are the future and what we will eventually end up using.
    That technology can be improved in such a manner that we can just move around without wearing any kind of device (except of course a headset) and our movements but even our expressions and movements of our fingers will be translated into VR.

  • bladestorm91

    The precision of the device is greatly appreciated and the price can still go down like with every other hardware, however there are problems with it.
    First: How exactly can you move your legs in the game without a keyboard or controller?
    And second: This still doesn’t solve the problem of feedback, your arms will still go through walls in games.
    And if anyone says treadmills about the first problem, I’m sorry to disappoint, but those things are obsolete by design for VR. Why you ask?
    One: You can’t jump on them.
    Two: You can’t prone on them.

    My suggestion for how to fix all of the mentioned above problems is to make a bodysuit (or something to track you) and something which will suspend you in the air. The latter can also act as a feedback machine which when you punch a wall it actually stops your hand.

    • Sven Viking

      You can jump on the Omni (though I expect it might make bunny-hopping a bit awkward).

    • Jo Yardley

      We will want to step away from wearing things, controllers, joysticks, suits, special shoes, etc.
      I think that in the future we’ll use something like the infinadeck to walk on and an improved version of the motion sensing input devices such as the Kinect and Leap motion that will translate your movements into VR.
      You can then run, jump, duck, strafe, whatever you want.

      • bladestorm91

        About the first point, yes we will eventually step away from them.
        About the second, unfortunately that still doesn’t solve the feedback problem (your hand ghosting through walls). You would still need something to constrain you for feedback like a bodysuit or something.