In recent years, virtual reality has regained its relevancy and slowly grew popular in the gaming space. From the rise of the Oculus Rift to the surprising reveal of Sony’s Project Morpheus, it’s evident that gamers are anxious to fully immerse themselves into the virtual realm. And with Control VR’s new wearable motion capture technology, we are one step closer to that happening.
Using a series of sensors strapped to the upper body, Control VR is able to monitor a person's movements without the use of an external camera. So, if you were to program the system to work with a video game, then the actions of an individual's arms and hands can be replicated on screen, allowing for more player control to deliver a bigger sense of reality.
"What [Control VR] is doing right now is hugely significant not only to gaming but to technology in general,” said Control VR Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Alex Sarnoff, in an exclusive interview with Examiner. “[It is] providing users with the ability to have something that monitors the motions of your hands in a very detailed manner, without having to use a camera or an external source that requires you to be holding your hands above a certain sphere of recognition.
"So, really, the bottom line is virtual reality is the future of gaming, right? So, you’re starting to see multiple [companies] making headsets and they’re making great progress in terms creating a solution for how you see yourself in a virtual environment, since you can look around and feel like you’re there. The biggest issue is every one who puts on an Oculus or Morpheus for the first time, [they] want to see where [their] hands are at. So what Control VR has done is provided the solution to how you can now have full immersion and have full presence in virtual reality.”
With the help of the Oculus Rift, Control VR was able to create a brief moon travel simulation which Examiner went hands-on with this week at Electronic Entertainment Expo 2014.
Using Oculus, we were able to look around thanks to the devices head tracking system. We glanced down to examine our hands, which appeared right in front of us. And with our motion capture gloves, we were able to manipulate even the slightest activities; every little hand gesture, finger movement and wave of the arm we made was translated onto the screen with tremendous accuracy, and not too much lag.
For you console users, note that the device is fully compatible with Project Morpheus, as well.
This technology has been used by the likes of major science organizations such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Raytheon, Sarnoff mentioned. In fact, this technology has been in the works for quite some time, but only now is it finally reaching the point where it can be shrunk down for better precision.
As technology's progressed we’ve gotten the sensors small enough and cheap enough to where we can now put them on your individual fingers
"So [this] technology has been in development for about two decades now, and we’ve been focusing on the space of inertial motion capture for the last 20 years and selling really expensive systems to high end clients that can afford it,” said Sarnoff. "And as technology's progressed we’ve gotten the sensors small enough and cheap enough to where we can now put them on your individual fingers. And using an amazing, amazing software platform we’re able to create a language for how multiple motion sensors are able to communicate as a whole.”
Control VR is currently running a Kickstarter campaign for the wearable tech, which reached its goal within five days but still has about three weeks left. Backers who are willing to throw down $600 or more will receive a dev kit, or two, or 10 even, depending on how much they’re willing to pledge. The company’s goal is to get as many systems as they can out there so developers can experiment and create their own applications for it, not just in the gaming space either; Control VR doesn’t require a virtual headset, it is compatible with PCs as well as Google Glass, according to Sarnoff, who looks toward a future where the device contributes to the advancement of robotics.
"This technology just hasn’t been seen before by the general public, to this extent. So giving people the opportunity to get their hands on the tools that will allow them to create software applications where now you can make your hands and fingers a part of the actual experience.”
At the moment, Control VR’s focus is solely on creating an upper body virtual reality experience; however, they’re open to the idea of a full body system, if that’s what the public wants.
We may introduce full body motion capture at some point in the future if the community asks for it
"The reason that we developed an upper body system is because we believe that virtual reality really lends itself to a seated experience,” said Sarnoff. "We may introduce full body motion capture at some point in the future if the community asks for it, but right now we’re purposely focusing on people being able to have their arms, hands and fingers being used in video games. So, we want people to come home from a hard day of work and like chill out, sit on the sofa and have a seated experience, and we feel that, really that’s the direction where things are heading."