reactive grip kickstarter tactical haptics

Reactive Grip is a haptic VR controller by Tactical Haptics which has finally hit Kickstarter. Reactive Grip uses sliding bars on the surface of the controller to create unique tactile sensations that go beyond mere rumble.

I got a chance to try an early Reactive Grip prototype at GDC 2013 and was quite impressed. I’ll admit that my intuition wouldn’t have said that some sliding bars would do much for haptic feedback on a controller, but they certainly do. When I tried the prototype I was very surprised at the natural feeling of stabbing a sword into a dummy or swinging a flail above my head. Even off the top of my head there are plenty of games that would greatly benefit from the haptic sensation that Reactive Grip can provide.

reactive grip tactical haptics kickstarer

Today marks the beginning of the Reactive Grip dev kit Kickstarter. Tactical Haptics is hoping to raise $175,000 over the 35 days of their campaign. ‘Early Bird’ prices start at $159 for a single controller and the earliest bulk deliveries are expect in October 2014. The Reactive Grip Kickstarter video features a number of prevalent names from the VR-sphere proclaiming support for the dev kit: Amir Rubin (CEO, Sixense Entertainment), Jan Goetgeluk (CEO, Virtuix), Cymatic Bruce and Karl Krantz (SVVR Meetup), and David Chavez (CTO, zSpace).

'Justice League' IMAX VR Experience to Debut Haptic VR Controller from Tactical Haptics

tactical haptics reactive grip trackersOne thing be noted is that the Reactive Grip controller doesn’t include its own tracking technology. It is specially designed to accommodate a Sixense STEM tracker internally, but Tactical Haptics says they’ll make it easy to use other tracking methods like the Razer Hydra, Wiimote, PS Move, and others.

The dev kit has also reduced the number of sliders from the prototype from four to three, which could reduce the fidelity of the haptic sensation (more sliders would mean more ‘accurate’ targeting of the tactile feedback).

Here’s an easy to read breakdown of the core reward tiers for the Reactive Grip Kickstarter:

Price–Tier Reward # Available
$159 – One Controller (Early Bird) A single Reactive Grip controller – Estimated delivery: October 2014 50
$179 – One Controller A single Reactive Grip controller – Estimated delivery: October 2014 100
$179 – One Controller (Second Batch) A single Reactive Grip controller – Estimated delivery: November 2014 250
$299 – Two Controllers (Early Bird) Two Reactive Grip controllers – Estimated delivery: October 2014 50
$349 – Two Controllers Two Reactive Grip controllers – Estimated delivery: October 2014 100
$349 – Two Controllers (Second Batch) Two Reactive Grip controllers – Estimated delivery: November 2014 250

You can also find a tee-shirt and lower non-controller tiers on the Kickstarter. The company is hoping that developers will back the dev kit tiers while mainstream gamers will back the lower tiers to show the world that there is interest in more than just rumble feedback.

Tactical Haptics has a number of demos already built for Reactive Grip which it would seem they’ll make available to developers to begin experimenting with the dev kit. Details are slim right now, but the company also says that the Reactive Grip SDK is Unity ready. The Kickstarter video even shows that the company has Reactive Grip working internally with the HL2VR 1.2 mod—I should mention that I’ve been saying to myself “I wish I had a Reactive Grip controller for this!” as I’ve been playing through HL2VR 1.2 the last few weeks. I can’t wait to be able to try it with the controller.

Prototype VR Controller Dynamically Distributes Weight to Fit Virtual Objects

The Reactive Grip dev kit controllers are wired, though Tactical Haptics says that the future controller version will wireless.

Reactive Grip Kickstarter

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  • Mageoftheyear

    One word: YES.

  • VRdreamer

    I must say I’m having mixed emotions regarding this.
    From videos of people trying it out it seem to be amazing, and in many ways just what VR needs, but to start a Kickstarter campaign and sell it as an independent product with no tracking? so I have to buy the Sixense’s Stem system and this?
    And it’s not going to be cheap because it’s wireless…

    I feel like they should have teamed up with Sixense and created one complete product.
    I understand it’s not easy making such an agreement between companies but it just feels like buying a PS3 controller with no vibrating motor and then needing to pay lots of money to a different company to strap to it a motor, which will use a seperate wireless connection.

    This is all because it’s pre-early days for commercial VR.
    I believe that the Kickstarter campaine will succeed, but I do wonder if this company will survive on it’s own and will still exist in two years time, or will be absorbed by someone.

    • Mageoftheyear

      As their kickstarter page says this version will be wired – not wireless. Perhaps you were referring to the consumer edition?
      I too would have loved for this to be integrated with the STEM controller. That may happen one day, may not. This product is being marketed to STEM backers (amongst others, and could even support PrioVR’s trackers I’m sure) and besides the obvious haptic feedback it has one advantage over the STEM: the controllers are ambidextrously constructed (if you look at the STEM controller you’ll notice that the left and right controllers do not mirror each other – they are clones.)

      I may have worded all that rather poorly, it’s hot as hell at work and my lunch-break without lunch is over…

      • VRdreamer

        You explained yourself perfectly and I got your point.
        Yes, I was refering to the consumer version and basically that’s all I care about.
        I think it’s fundamentaly wrong to market it to Stem backers (though I see no other option) and I’ll explain why.
        Kickstarter is not only about wanting a specific product ahead of time, but wanting something to actually happen, that they believe in, to come to life and be available in stores in the near future for everyone. Who the hell wants a shirt or a cup or a poster of something? It’s all about making something happen, and when I think about what’s going to happen, when the day will come and I’ll have to pay 300$ for a pair of Reactive Grip after buying the Stem system.
        Too expensive.. too clumsy, and I hate the fact it feels awesome cos it means I’ll buy it :)

        • Mageoftheyear

          I can understand your frustration. However, by the time a consumer release comes along Sixense may licence their base station (that receives the tracking info) to Tactical Haptics, or you may be able to buy the STEM base by itself with the option to add STEM modules to your purchase.

          Those are just guesses, but Sixense designed their STEM system to be adopted by others, for them to throw up roadblocks that say “you must buy the base station with two controllers and three trackers!” would be counter-intuitive to that vision. These remain guesses but if for no other reason I think Sixense will be eager to provide us with a solution if it gets us using their technology.

          I too don’t want to buy a package that I’ll only use half of :P

  • Andreas Aronsson

    I opted in for a single handle. Seems too awesome to not get it, and I’ve followed them ever since… I saw videos from… which ever convention. As I backed the STEM this felt like a no brainer, but as I’ve shelled out with quite a lot on Kickstarter (and looking to do that more in the future) I’m again just doing one handle :P If nothing else I might be able to get a wireless consumer version at some point in the future to complement the first one!