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Tactical Haptics, founded by William Provancher, is building a virtual reality device called Reactive Grip. Reactive Grip is a specialized controller that uses software and hardware to provide gamers with real physical sensations.
Current gen-gaming controllers such as the new Xbox One and PlayStation 4 controllers are limited to rumble packs, and while both new consoles feature additional vibration motors to enhance the gaming experience; they are limited in scope and a fair bit of a nuisance. Although the vibration motors provide feedback to your in-game actions, it is limited to just that: a vibration. There are no other physical attributes of virtual objects conveyed through the device.
However, Tactical Haptics aims to revolutionize the gaming experience by overlaying virtual reality onto a physical controller.
The concept is simple and contains two components:
- Tactile component: The device allows users to interact with an in-game object and actually sense the physical features. So if a player is playing the latest installment in the NBA 2K series, when they pick up a basketball the user will feel the divots in its skin.
- Motion component: This component of the controller targets how your arm muscles interact with the objects your in-game character is holding. For example, if you’re playing a role-playing game (RPG) and your character picks up a weapon, then the user will feel its weight and other physical features.
The Reactive Grip creates the illusion of physical interaction with in-game objects by combining the tactile and motion components.
Tactical Haptics has received positive feedback, but continues to struggle in reaching their goal on its Kickstarter campaign. While this can be attributed to the difficulty in conveying the benefits of improved virtual reality feedback, the Reactive Grip is simply the tip of the iceberg.
Possible Enterprise Use-Cases
Physical representations of virtual objects is a great start, but companies such as Tactical Haptics can take this technology a step further by re-transmitting physical interactions back into virtual reality. As I had mentioned in this previous post, “the ability to interact with the digital world via physical objects or even our own hands removes any limitations, and allows users to get a more tangible perception of the object they are interacting with.”
Virtual reality overlaid on physical objects is a two-way street, and taking advantage of such technology would open up a world of opportunities for users across different industries and segments:
- Virtual reality is a key factor when discussing the future of Retail, and while Tactical Haptics aims to enhance the videogame industry, its applications are not limited just to the gaming industry. The Reactive Grip device itself may not offer retail applications, but the technology behind it could enhance the retail experience.
- For example, shoppers could walk up to a virtual display in a retail store, interact with the display to view product offerings, and even feel the physical characteristics of those products. This can be something as simple as feeling the fabric of a particular clothing item or something as complex as interactioning with the product in its entirety, physical weight and all.
- Virtual reality provides a plethora of opportunities within the medical community. Students could train for medical procedures such as surgery using virtual reality devices. Although this is no substitute for the actual experience itself such application would help reduce overhead costs and potential risks involved with real-world procedures.
- This could also prompt a new form of medical practice wherein patients can consult with doctors via virtual reality enabled devices. Not only would this allow doctors to interact with patients from the comfort of their current location, but could also drive philanthropic efforts by enabling medical professionals to offer aid in third-world countries.
The usability for virtual reality devices is endless including the enhancement of simulators such as those used by pilots or car manufacturers to test-drive automobiles. And while such technology may still seem too far away for real-world applications, all it takes in one company such as Tactical Haptics to bridge the gap between conception and implementation.