Bridging the gaps that still remain in virtual reality once the visual and audio elements are at least ‘good enough’, VR enthusiasts will surely turn their attention to elements that are missing from their experience whilst trying to reach into these new virtual worlds.
It’s fairly clear that input development is still lagging some way behind the blindingly rapid progress made by VR Headsets in the last 2 years. Although E3 2014 gave us extremely positive experiences with Sixense’s STEM and Control VR’s VR Gloves, it does seem as if we’re moving in the right direction.
Haptics are tied to input but often seen as disposable. Haptic technology, speaking broadly, transfers feedback via physical movement. A basic example is the force feedback you have in your consoles controller, where different motor oscillations give you immediate physical feedback when tied to gaming events. We’ve covered Tactical Haptics many times now, and their approach to a particular type of ‘skin stretching’ haptics were uncannily effective and proved that advanced haptics could indeed help enhance immersion.
Now, DEKKA Technologies reckon they’ve produced one of the most advanced haptic feedback system, specifically built to emulate weapon recoil. Originally designed for training purposes, DEKKA seems to have realised that a realistic way to emulate the feel of firing weapons might just be of interest to the consumer entertainment market and, in particular immersive entertainment such as virtual reality.
Striker VR (stands for Virtual Recoil) claims to differ from other realistic recoil simulators in that their system uses an electro-magnetic linear drive system rather than bulky, noisy compressed CO2 – DEKKA claim the drive converts energy “directly to linear motion” which seems to effectively mean precisely moving a weighted barrel to simulate the movement usually caused by detonations within the weapon. Their programmable system can apparently also simulate changed in weight distribution, although it’s not clear how far this capability can be pushed.
What’s not clear however is if the unit contains the other requisite technology to be involved in a VR experience. Realistic recoil is great, but if the movement of your weapon isn’t translated into the game, there’s not much point. Whether DEKKA will begin investigating these avenues is as yet unclear. Also, the system clearly requires some heavy duty power, supplied by a rather chunky cable. The image above which includes the control box (designed for industrial use) but it’s unknown how much of that box is assigned to power supply.
Still, it’s an interesting progression of haptic technology, the uses of which could well give us that realistic weapon feel enthusiasts crave. We’ll keep an eye on Striker VR and let you know how it develops.