After a successful Kickstarter in October of 2013, Sixense is nearing completion of their STEM motion controller. Prior to the first units shipping out to backers, the company it’s releasing 3D printable components which will allow hobbyists and hardware makers to create add-on accessories, like gun, sword, and other attachments, for the controller and STEM Pack.
In a recent update to Kickstarter backers, Sixense says that they’re performing the final testing of the STEM Base’s circuit board. The company says they expect to ship out the first pre-production prototypes to backers of their ‘Silver’ or higher reward level by the end of October. They expect to ship final production units to other backers by the end of the year.
Before that happens though, Sixense is giving enthusiasts and hardware makers a way to start creating add-on accessories that are compatible with the device. Today the company is releasing 3D printable components which provide a framework for mounting attachments to the STEM controller or for mounting the STEM Pack (a standalone tracker) to a peripheral. They explain how each works:
Here’s how it works for the STEM Controller:
- The STEM Controller has an accessory port on the top/front into which a removable plug fits flush to the surface.
- When the plug is removed, other accessories (such as the gun shown below) can be attached.
- We are providing CAD models for both the plug and the top/front of the STEM Controller to assist you in designing your own accessories.
Here’s how it works for the STEM Pack:
- The STEM Pack has a “male” slide, which can be used to attach it to the surface of any object with the appropriate “female” mount.
- We are providing CAD models for both the bottom plate of the STEM Pack and the slide.
- The STEM Pack can also be completely embedded within another peripheral if that best suits the application.
Because we’re talking about VR, where one’s view is blocked by the headset, it might seem at first like the shape of the controller isn’t important, but it absolutely is. For one, having a properly weighed controller that matches what you’re seeing in the game is very important to immersion. It feels incredibly weird to be able to swing a sword without at least some leverage felt from the length of the blade.
Gun simulation, which is very prominent in today’s games, is important as well. If you’re using a shouldered rifle in the game, you don’t want to be wielding it like a pistol in real life. With the STEM Pack, a self contained tracker, accessory makers could create a properly shaped and weighted rifle that could be shouldered correctly.