As we enter the last furlong before the release of a rash of Virtual Reality headsets all start fighting for our money the Facebook owned Oculus has been splashing it’s cash on yet another computer vision company.
Israeli company Pebbles Interfaces joins 13th Lab, Nimble VR, Surreal Vision all of who work on computer vision and Carbon Design Group who make physical controllers (like the Xbox 360’s). It looks like Occulus are putting a lot of thought (and money) into how you’re going to control your movement and interaction in their virtual space.
The problem of control in VR is a very real one. with the headset strapped to your face using a keyboard to control movement is right out and unless you have good muscle memory there may be fatal delays in locating all the buttons on a regular controller.
Enter the Touch
At E3 Oculus debuted their Oculus Touch controller prototypes. These allow the Oculus rift to track hand movement and also has a small degree of finger tracking, but this was limited to hand open/hand closed in the demos on display.
Beyond the physical
If, instead of relying on physical controllers the rift could just see your hands and provide accurately located representations of them in the VR space, control suddenly becomes far more intuitive. Objects in the virtual world can be picked up and manipulated just as you would in the real world, removing the barrier of artificial interaction that would take you out of the moment, shattering the VR illusion. As you can see from this video Pebbles Interfaces seem to have this down pretty well.
Given how close we are to launch it’s unlikely that this tech will make it into the first commercial version of the Rift, but maybe the the Rift 2 will allow you to see your own hands in the VR world. Just try not to think about what the porn companies are going to do with that.