We are still days away from the end of January and already 2017 appears to be delivering big time in professional virtual reality for engineering!
In our last post, we stated Virtalis’ firmly held belief that the energetic push for VR in entertainment will ultimately drive companies to produce quicker, cheaper and more competitive technology. This will then bring further benefits to companies using VR within the engineering sector. Since that post, the news from CES, the annual global showcase in Las Vegas, and subsequent events has proved the veracity of that view.
HTC Vive Controller
A strong theme that ran through all the January conferences was VR input devices, styled as gloves and other items. Rumours abound that HTC Vive will soon be releasing an update to its current controller offerings, after photos of prototypes were tweeted from the Steam Dev Days conference. At the moment, their main advantage appears to be the ability for the user to open and close their hand. This will allow people to virtually pick things up and drop them, an improvement on the current method of clicking a button. Such improved naturalisation has clear benefits for VR in engineering, including our VR4Cad offering.
So, the push is definitely on in terms of interacting with VR worlds, and having spent time with the Oculus Touch Controllers, we can see what all the fuss is about! However, gloves with individual finger tracking still produce the best levels of interactivity so we would recommend a few other accessories.
Leap Motion has been revamped and re-energised recently in an effort to impact the VR world. This highly accurate hand-tracking technology was originally designed with desktop in mind, back in 2013. It was able to render a non-touch screen almost touch screen by tracking hand motions, including swiping and pinching. Now it is being integrated into VR packages to provide a more immersive and accurate experience.
The Vive Tracker is a versatile tracking system that can be attached to other items, such as baseball bats, rifles or fireman’s hoses. It essentially turns anything into a VR accessory. This is great news for people who want a more interactive entertainment system, but such technology also has potential in professional virtual reality for engineering. Whether it’s equipment training or simulated processes, or something else entirely, there’s surely a use for such technology in engineering. The Vive Tracker is set to be released in the second quarter of this year.
A more practical accessory, this leather cover fits over the memory foam edge of Gear VR or HTC Vive. It is designed to combat the issue of cleaning up sweat that builds up on the headset, the result of no through air flow. Nobody wants a dirty headset!
Of course, VR is not just about replicating sight and touch, but addressing all of the senses to achieve that true immersion. It was intriguing to hear then, that there is another aroma/smell device coming our way. An innovation from the porn industry, OhRoma is essentially a gas mask in which smell cannisters are inserted. The right smell is then triggered by a smartphone. Used in conjunction with a VR headset, the OhRoma allows you to experience the smells of a sexual encounter. Hopefully, the technology can be developed into other areas of the VR industry.
For those of you who spend a lot of time in the HTC Vive headset, you’ll know that the inability to quickly flip up the visor can be a real pain. In our last post we mentioned that the Lenovo VR headset will have this functionality, but SynergyWiz’s rEvolve accessory is expected to be released sooner. It also has the added advantage of pressing most of the headset’s weight across the forehead rather than the eye area, improving comfort.