Prototype VR Controller Dynamically Distributes Weight to Fit Virtual Objects


There’s no doubt about it; weilding a real controller that matches the weight and feel of a virtual object is far more immersive than having a disconnect between the two. The problem, of course, is that if a controller is made to fit too specific a role, it’s less useful for interacting with a wide range of virtual objects. A novel prototype based on an HTC Vive controller attempts to solve this problem by allowing the controller to redistribute its weight on the fly.

Created by Manuel Rosado, a Madrid-based VR developer, the so called Nyoibo prototype controller uses a series of interconnected servos to redistribute the controller’s weight to more accurately match the currently held object. The motors and weight are also used to create haptic feedback emulating the kick of shooting a gun.

In a video showing the prototype in action, you can see the controller’s various shapes corresponding to a smaller gun like a mini Uzi, a larger gun like an AK, and even a sword.

While the total weight of the controller of course doesn’t change, the center of gravity (and thus moment of inertia) does, which goes a long way to altering your perception of the held object’s shape. Rosado notes in the video that the virtual weapons in this case don’t have any artificial recoil; their movement is entirely based on the real feedback from the Nyoibo prototype.

While the Nyoibo controller is well demonstrated for use with various weapons, it’s easy to imagine how the concept could apply more broadly to represent other items like tools, sports equipment, and more.

Rosado says he’s working on a similar prototype for the Oculus Touch controllers. He appears to still be actively developing of the device; a short video posted earlier this month appears to show a slightly more refined prototype.

Communicating weight and shape of objects in VR is a big challenge, and it’s being approached from several angles. In addition to Rosado interesting work, we’ve also seen shapeshifting controllers which allow players to manually change between different poses on the fly, static controllers which use physics to create the illusion of the player holding larger objects, and even software-driven approaches to communicating weight to players.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • ipollute

    Nice, but will never see production. We need to find a way to trick the brain, any other solution will only be a prototype to get us there.

  • Ungeherr

    Yeah, this design would be smashed to pieces on the very first day for sure when playing stuff like fruit ninja

  • Luke

    maybe for people who have a lot of space could be a good buy.

  • Lucidfeuer

    Great prototype. Not going to be a solution but it’s a great starting point for a virtual controller with simulated weight-distribution. I don’t know enough science about that, but some air/gaz or liquid/cristal density variation could maybe enable miniaturisation and precision.