Oculus Rift is a revolutionary VR (Virtual Reality) head-mounted device that made it possible to play computer games in a new and truly immersive way. Unlike the old VR sets we could find in the 90s arcade halls, this one uses your powerful PC graphics to deliver a high definition, high quality experience rather than lego-like environments.
But Oculus was missing an important part to make it more immersive – a more natural form of control. Till now, the only way to move and control your environment was to use the traditional mouse/keyboard or joystick. It breaks the illusion, and makes it that much less effective.
But now, a japanese firm called Miraisens promises a much more tactile experience with a new controller that will offer force feedback on top of the oculus rift graphic experience. The device that will fit on the user’s finger, will provide vibrations to correspond with the touching, moving or manipulation of object in the virtual world.
It’s only a step in the direction of a full VR experience “A-la” Star Trek TNG’s Holodeck, but it’s a definite progression.
Another way to approach the issue was taken by Leap Motion, the mass funded start-up that produced a unique controller that can “see” and follow a user’s fingers in the air and allow manipulation in the style of the film “Minority Report”. Leap Motion and Oculus Rift worked together and produced a specialized mount for the controller that allow the user to use the Leap with the VR helmet and use his/her hands to accomplish actions in the VR world.
Which one is better? Hard to say.. on the one hand, you get actual feedback from the world around you – feel the resistance of buttons, experience a wall or weight on your finger when you feel it in the VR world. But on the other, you get to use your hands in a much more natural way.. without the cumbersome entanglement of extra wires or devices (aside from the large one attached to your face that is).
On all accounts, this is just a natural progression, and just another step in the ladder. Even the requirement of wearing a VR helmet/goggles will be gone with time, as technology will allow us to create the experience in a much more natural form.
So which do you prefer? tactile feedback at the price of some discomfort, or no discomfort for the price of no tactile feedback?