VR Exoskeleton Offers Affordable Leg Tracking & Haptic Feedback
Because VR teleportation is so 2016.
VR has come a long way over since launch of the Oculus DK1. Over the past five years we’ve seen numerous advancements in immersive technology that have helped open the doors to a wide range of possibilities. Yet, at the same time, we still find ourselves dealing with many of the issues we struggled with since the birth of the modern VR industry.
Artificial locomotion has been an especially difficult hurdle to overcome. Roughly four years since the release of the original Oculus Rift and we still find ourselves relying on the same basic techniques: instant teleportation, smooth artificial locomotion, and on-rails movement; more often the not the player is fixed in a single position, unable to move beyond a small, predefined space.
Cue AgileVR, a VR exoskeletal device from Mechatech Limited that uses a combination of inside-out tracking and Bluetooth technology to track your lower body movements and translate them to your VR experience. Instead of using the trackpad on a motion controllers to teleport or artificially sliding throughout the VR environment, AgileVR allows you to move in-game by physically running in place, offering a more authentic immersive experience while simultaneously reducing motion sickness by putting you in full control of your actions.
The exoskeletal devices also feature haptic feedback technology capable of delivering detailed physical sensations, whether it be a bullet hitting your leg or the feel of different terrain and conditions, such as moving water or high winds. Currently there few if any existing apps or games that support full body haptics, though Metatech hopes its technology will motivate developers to embrace more complex haptics in the future.
The setup sounds fairly painless: users pair their AgileVR devices to the AgileVR Manager Software via Bluetooth and calibrate their system, after which they are then free to explore a variety of compatible titles including Minecraft VR, Fallout 4 VR, Skyrim VR, Asgard’s Wrath, DoomVFR, GORN, and Google Earth VR just to name a few. According to the team, AgileVR will be compatible with the following PC VR headsets at launch provided the company reaches its funding goals: Oculus Rift/Rift S, Quest with Oculus Link, HTC Vive, HTC Vive Pro, Valve Index, and Pimax. Stretch goals would introduce native Oculus Quest and PlayStation VR support.
Moving forward, the company hopes to expand its modular system by incorporating additional exoskeleton devices to other parts of the body; the end goal being a full body VR exoskeleton. The company will also be providing their own Unity Software Development Kit, allowing developers access to the raw data from both the sensors as well as the haptic feedback motors.
At the time of this writing AgileVR is $147,664 shy of its $154,014 goal with 27 days left in the campaign.
Image Credit: Mechatech Limited