While virtual reality control schemes are still being explored, many developers have turned to the Razer Hydra as an effective input for use with the Oculus Rift. The Hydra uses magnetic tracking to determine the absolute position and orientation of two Wiimote-like controllers held in the player’s hand. The controllers also have joysticks and buttons which make for a highly flexible virtual reality input system. Today-only you can buy the Razer Hydra for $40 from my favorite deal-a-day site, Woot.com.
The Razer Hydra provides full 6 degrees-of-freedom tracking which means that the base unit can determine the absolute position of the controllers as well as their orientation. The makes the Hydra perfect for tracking players hands in a virtual reality world, allowing them to reach out and interact naturally with the environment.
Tech.Woot.com is selling the Razer Hydra for $40. The deal is only good until the end of the day (and it could sell out before then) so be sure you don’t miss out. This is a fine deal for devs and players alike — Amazon currently sells the same unit for $62.
Developers Adopting Razer Hydra for Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Input
A number of developers are already using the Razer Hydra as the go-to input device for virtual reality games.
Project Holodeck — which uses the Razer Hydra, Oculus Rift, and other hardware — uses the Hydra to let players interact with objects in the game world. Here’s what I wrote about the Hydra after my time in the Holodeck:
With a controller in each hand, you reach out and touch objects rather than using some incarnation of ‘press X to hold’. You see your arms hands in front of you right where you expect them to be. Want to grab the cannon on the side of the ship? Walk up to it, reach out your arms, and grab the handles. Though the ‘grabbing’ part was still technically done with a button on the Hydra, it was far more natural because your hand has to be right next to the object that you want to grab.
From my brief time in the Holodeck, the fidelity felt like it was to the point that you could sit down to a virtual dinner table and easily grab the salad fork without accidentally grabbing the adjacent dinner fork.
Owen Pedrotti, who has been concepting a VR game called Armored Ops, called the Razer Hydra the “best next step” for virtual reality gaming input.
“The Razer Hydra was something of a surprise for me. It’s proven to be pretty close to ideal for my purposes, and has taken my MechWarrior inspired game design in what I think is a more interesting direction. It matched perfectly with the physics-driven robot simulation I created for controlling the arms,” Pedrotti said about the Hydra.