Remember when you first played a video game with rumble capability? The controller shook when you got hit and it blew you away. But force feedback hasn’t really evolved since then.
Rumble motors have gotten more powerful and certain computer joysticks have integrated variable resistance motors as well, but it’s all really just the controller shaking whenever something in game happens. Throwing a punch is the same as getting caught in an earthquake, as far as these controllers are concerned.
Today’s Kickstarter of the Week is looking to change all that. Dubbed the Reactive Grip by Tactical Haptics, this new force feedback controller will actually allow you to feel the torque and weight of objects you pick up.
The controller is, essentially, a wand controller like the PS Move or Wiimote. However, on the controller are four points of contact that actually elevate your hand off the controller itself. These points of contact can move the controller up and down independently, and thus, can simulate the forces you would feel when holding an object.
For example, if you were swinging a sword, you would experience more force on one side of your hand than another as you work to overcome the sword’s inertia. So the points of contact on the Reactive Grip move so that one of the controller moves more significantly than the other. This pulls on your skin and makes it feel like you have an actual weighted object in your hand.
Similarly, if you are holding and shield and blocking an attack, the shield wouldn’t just shake. It would take a huge impact all at once. The Reactive Grip could move all points of contact down at the same time, forcing the controller to “jump” in your hand a little, to simulate the weight of tanking an opponent’s strike.
This technology can be used to simulate any number of physical situations. It can make the controller kick back when you fire a gun. It can make the controller pull in a certain direction while reeling in a fishing line. It’s primarily being developed for use with home VR systems like Oculus Rift and the Virtuix Omni. Its current motion sensor is the Sixense STEM tracking system, which you likely haven’t heard of. However, they are creating it with a modular design, allowing you to clip on other motion sensing controllers like the Wiimote or PS Move. It would even be compatible with the castAR system, which we covered in another Kickstarter of the Week.
The project is looking for $175,000 to get off the ground. Pledging $25 or more will get you a nifty shirt, which is cool but doesn’t compare to pledging $159 which actually gets you a Reactive Grip development kit and controller. The project only has 461 backers so far, but those meager backers have donated a whopping $86,858 dollars to the project that’s an average of $188 per backer! We guess they will all be getting the development kit. Unfortunately, there are only two days left in the Kickstarter, so if you are going to pitch in you better do it soon.