Vision Pro doesn’t have controllers, although that’s not stopping third-party hardware creators from trying to bypass Apple. Enter Surreal Touch, a newly announced motion controller that aims to leverage Vision Pro’s ability to play PC VR games, but not only.

Surreal Interactive, the startup behind Surreal Touch, is hoping to bring the controllers to market some point next month, with its price revealed at the time of launch.

Similar to Meta’s Touch Pro controllers, Surreal Touch contains optical sensors with fisheye lenses that allow the device to track independently from the headset.

Image courtesy Surreal Interactive

Also very similar to Meta’s Touch Pro, you’ll find a ring-less design thanks to its inside-out optical sensors, onboard SLAM tracking allowing for 6DOF input, and a standard button configuration that anyone with a modern VR headset will instantly recognize.

Speaking to CEO and founder Zhenfei Yang, Road to VR learned that Surreal Touch will ship with a SteamVR compatibility mode, which supports all existing PC VR games. That means you’ll need a VR-ready PC to play games like Half-Life: Alyx (2020), which the company shows working below:

And just how will that work? Surreal Interactive says it’s currently developing a Vision Pro-native streaming app, which promises to let you play SteamVR games from your computer at “4K, 120 Hz.”

While PC VR gameplay is undoubtedly a big focus, the company says it’s also working on its own native SDK, which will allow Vision Pro app developers the ability to support Surreal Touch.

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“We’re currently collaborating with several studios to port their games to the AVP platform. Additionally, we have plans to reach out to and partner with more developers in the near future,” Yang told Road to VR.

Surreal Interactive also teased it’s working on a ‘Tool Mode’, which presumably could also allow for basic UI selection when in Vision Pro, however the company hasn’t revealed its exact function, stating only that the additional mode is “still undergoing in-house development. Stay tuned for more details.”

There’s still plenty to learn about, including battery life, real-world tracking accuracy, compatibility with other headsets, price, and more. We’re hoping to learn more closer to launch, so check back soon. In the meantime, check out the spec sheet below:

Specs

Tracking
Positioning Accuracy: Less than 10mm, Less than 1 degree
Refresh Rate: 100Hz
Computer Vision and SLAM Technology, dual fisheye camera
Design Length: 125mm
Width: 71mm
Height: 77mm
Weight: 148g
Compact, ring-free design
Streaming App
Vision Pro Native
Graphics: 4K resolution at 120Hz
Software Optimization: Stream 4K 120Hz SteamVR Graphics to Your Headset, unmatched by others
Newsletter graphic

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Well before the first modern XR products hit the market, Scott recognized the potential of the technology and set out to understand and document its growth. He has been professionally reporting on the space for nearly a decade as Editor at Road to VR, authoring more than 4,000 articles on the topic. Scott brings that seasoned insight to his reporting from major industry events across the globe.
  • ViRGiN

    This is insanely bad. Please tell me this is coming to Kickstarter.

  • Well, they look cool ….
    #WhereAreTheDatagloves
    []^ (

  • 1cm of accuracy is not that great to be honest

  • Arno van Wingerde

    Right…. a small firm – Chinese, I presume? – coming up with controllers for the AVP. OK not a bad idea by itself, since Apple forgot to bundle them: at the price level of the AVP, Apple clearly needed to make compromises, right?
    So they make hardware, which a decent percentage of AVP users, per definition people with an interesting brains-to-cash ratio will buy, realising that the gorgeous screen of AVP needs to be used for somewhat more satisfying than a poor monitor replacement or only watching movies. So far so good: they can easily ask the price of a Quest3 for the controllers, because of the AVP market.

    Not so good: the available AVP market is really small, making a few hundred $ profit per set will not actually pay for the fairly large and typically hopelessly underestimated effort needed to get the software to a usable level -and most people won't buy it before it shows that it can be used for games. Also, it is not a first party device that every AVP user has, just a subset of those and likely not actively supported by Apple. Even such accessories for much larger markets have failed due to the lack of numbers which causes designers to ignore it, here this is even more the case. If a few million AVPs were sold it might have a chance, but not like this.

    • Christian Schildwaechter

      This can only be a future play, hoping for a much cheaper Vision model selling in much larger numbers, so that the number of potential users can grow beyond microscopic. Apple added iOS support for proprietary "Made for iPhone" gamepads only with iOS 7, and while these never went mainstream, there was enough niche interest to keep them alive despite high prices until Apple finally supported PlayStation/Xbox controllers in iOS 13.

      Before iOS 7, an iPhone simply didn't connect any type of controller, as it lacked matching drivers/HID profiles, and users couldn't sideload these. There were workarounds with "iCade" controllers connecting as keyboards, and I still have an ancient gamepad with "iPhone compatibility mode" that will send an "aq" when going left, "xz" for down, or "hr", "jn", "yt", "uf" for A, B, X, Y.

      This of course requires the game to support this specific type of keyboard controls and do the translation internally, which will also be the main issue for these 3rd party controllers on visionOS. Integration with OpenXR/SteamVR is of course the most elegant solution, but unless Apple adds native support for some type of 6DoF input device, they'll have to rely on hacks like translating spatial positions to multiple virtual axis when connecting as a HID controller already supported by Vision OS, and then having the app translate this back to actual 6DoF data.

      iCade showed that this can somewhat work even without any support from Apple. iCade sort of became an unofficial standard supported by several games and controllers. Largely because the actual "iCade" as a miniature arcade cabinet allowing to slide in an iPad as display and only needing digital input, was astonishing popular for an accessory that started as ThinkGeek's 2010 April fools' prank so many people wanted to be real, they turned it into an actual product.

      While I REALLY want to see more cross-platform, self-tracking controllers, I somewhat doubt that the Surreal Touch would see the same app support as the already minuscule niche iCade did. This would leave mostly PCVR streaming with typical "you have to resync for every session issues that are probably the reason why they announced their own steaming client, which will very likely turn out to be an ALXR fork adding simplified sync for the Surreal Touch.

  • Andrew Jakobs

    Is it also usable as SteamVR controllers so you can use it with other PCVR headsets, as I don't care about AVP.

  • I'm into it long term for my own gaming but with an already very tiny AVP gaming market that then niches further with peripherals- I'd need to see uptake to justify supporting them in my own work.

  • g-man

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    This is terrible.

  • xyzs

    And if they have any success, they will be sherlocked in no time without even a email from Apple.