Virtual Reality Peripherals & Accessories

For decades, we have seen virtual reality machines used in sci-fi movies. Some of us have even secretly, or maybe not so secretly, wished for it to become a reality in our modern world.

After years of excitement and promises by the gaming industry, virtual reality is finally showing signs of taking hold and becoming more than fiction. Although there are currently several VR headgear on the market right now, the headsets alone do not always offer a fully immersive virtual reality experience.

As of now, most of these headsets are still used in conjunction with traditional controls like the Vive controller, Oculus Touch and Xbox One controller. These have offered new breakthroughs in the way we play, but new virtual reality peripheral devices are offering the promise of a fully immersive experience that truly skews the line between “boring old normal” reality and “exciting new fresh” virtual reality.

With VR devices finally gaining momentum and becoming common, developers around the world are racing to create the most innovative and realistic ways of helping gamers have a richer experience. Many of these peripherals are still in the development stages, but some are already on the market and available for use with the main VR headsets.

To be honest, I got very excited– and a little scared– while researching some of these devices. It is amazing to see first-hand the science fiction of my childhood become the gaming reality of today!

Many of these products could offer significant breakthroughs not only in the gaming world, but in many other aspects of modern life. While some offer the promise of changing the way we play and live forever, some are unrealistic at the moment and may or may not catch on. However, they all offer exciting possibilities and an amazing virtual experience that could lead to further developments.

Here is a list of some of the most exciting virtual reality peripheral devices that are available now or in the works for the future.

Oculus Touch

If you are familiar with the Oculus Rift, chances are you have already heard of the Oculus Touch. These handheld controllers are considered to be the missing pieces of the headset and offer further expansion into the virtual experience.

Unlike some other controllers in development, the Oculus Touch is not a pair of gloves, but a half-moon-shaped pair of controllers. The motion-sensing technology and haptic feedback allow for realistic hand movements and reactions. To use, you would put your hands through the controllers and use buttons similar to traditional controllers. They consist of thumb stick, four buttons and a trigger.

The similarities between this device and traditional controllers with which gamers are already familiar could make this device a smooth transition from conventional gaming to virtual reality.

Manus VR

This is one of the more exciting devices, as it specifically seeks to create a more realistic experience in virtual gaming. The Manus VR is different from other glove-style controllers in the fact that it allows you to immerse your entire arm into the experience.

The goal is to skew the line of reality and cause you to forget the fact that you are using a controller. Like the Hands Omni and GloveOne, it allows you to articulate your fingers without the need of a traditional, plastic controller.

Although it is still currently in the development stage, this is another device that could realistically catch on quickly and change the way we use our hands while playing. It is expected to be released sometime late 2016 or early 2017.

Leap Motion

The Leap Motion is a device that is currently available and compatible with the OSVR platform. It has been around for some time but now has a better chance of catching on with the emergence of VR headsets in gaming.

This hands-free device accurately tracks the movement of your hands and fingers to add gesture controls to the gaming experience. For use with headsets, it can be attached to the front of the Oculus Rift of HTC Vive. It can also be used with a PCs and Macs via USB attachment.

It has a very precise form of motion-sensing technology and has the promise of changing the way we use our hands in gaming.

Unlimited Hand

This was one of the most exciting peripheral devices we got the chance to experience. This simple-looking forearm band is programmed with haptic feedback technology that interfaces with the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift via Bluetooth.

It not only detects the movement of your arms but can also influence your movement while playing. It will sense the movement of your hands and fingers and control the content accordingly.

But what is really weird is that it can also independently move your arm. This creates a realistic feeling of touching and holding objects in a game by stimulating feeling and creating resistance.

Virtuix Omni

Virtuix Omni is one of the more interesting devices I was able to review. It is a directional treadmill that allows you to control your whole-body movements in game by walking, running and jumping.

Although this bulky and expensive device is not likely to take off any time soon, it does provide an interesting look into what the future of VR may look like.

It would allow you to fully immerse your body into the experience and create a more active way of playing. It is available now but there are new developments being added to remove bugs and make it more practical and affordable.

Honestly, I can’t wait for Virtuix Omni to get the bugs worked out. It gives gaming, which is traditionally a lazy, sit-on-your-ass activity, into an active one in which you walk, run, and jump while playing.

3D Rudder

This is another device currently on the market that focuses more on a full-body gaming experience. The 3D Rudder is basically a footpad that detects movements by slightly leaning in certain directions.

Unlike other devices that focus on leg and foot movements, this device allows you to control your movements by sitting. According to their website:

Taking advantage of the natural physiological cooperation between your brain, hands, and feet, 3dRudder was designed to feel second nature the moment you make your first move. Jumping, sliding, flying, running and whatever else you can dream up are simpler than ever. With these actions under your feet, your hands are more free to grab, draw, shoot, sculpt, and everything else hands do best.

This makes it more practical for those looking for a fully immersive experience without all the sweat and exhaustion of some similar devices.

3dRudder partners seamlessly with your system’s hand controllers for a totally expanded VR movement experience.

MSI VR Backpacks

Micro-Star International has been working on a virtual reality backpack that would effectively remove the pain in the ass factor of having your VR headset tethered to a computer. While they are still in the developmental stages, these new devices would allow you to carry virtual reality gaming anywhere you go. They are powerful PCs that can be strapped to your back allowing you to literally run in VR.

From their website, the VR One:

Users get to move around and enjoy VR with big movements and total immersion without worrying about accidently unplugging the wires between the VR device and the platform. MSI VR One renders greater mobility and freedom for VR gaming.

Prices look like they will range between $2000 and $2500. Pre-orders will start soon.

Wrapping up

The recent technology being developed for interacting with virtual reality is starting to get really exciting.  So many companies are trying to find the best way to interact with the new virtual worlds we are now able to experience, the possibilities are endless.

Personally, I would love to have all of these in a private virtual reality studio.  For now, I will have to be satisfied with the videos and my imagination.

In the next part to our virtual reality starters guide, we will be going over some of the ways that virtual reality will impact our world.  From health care to science to education, virtual reality will benefit all of us.

Author: Becky DeForest

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