This VR Haptic Gun by [Robert Enriquez] is the result of hacking together different off-the-shelf products and tying it all together with an ESP32 development board. The result? A gun frame that integrates a VR controller (meaning it can be tracked and used in VR) and provides mild force feedback thanks to a motor that moves with each shot.
But that’s not all! Using the WiFi capabilities of the ESP32 board, the gun also responds to signals sent by a piece of software intended to drive commercial haptics hardware. That software hooks into the VR game and sends signals over the network telling the gun what’s happening, and [Robert]’s firmware acts on those signals. In short, every time [Robert] fires the gun in VR, the one in his hand recoils in synchronization with the game events. The effect is mild, but when it comes to tactile feedback, a little can go a long way.
The fact that this kind of experimentation is easily and affordably within the reach of hobbyists is wonderful, and VR certainly has plenty of room for amateurs to break new ground, as we’ve seen with projects like low-cost haptic VR gloves.
[Robert] walks through every phase of his gun’s design, explaining how he made various square pegs fit into round holes, and provides links to parts and resources in the project’s GitHub repository. There’s a video tour embedded below the page break, but if you want to jump straight to a demonstration in Valve’s Half-Life: Alyx, here’s a link to test firing at 10:19 in.
There are a number of improvements waiting to be done, but [Robert] definitely understands the value of getting something working, even if it’s a bit rough. After all, nothing fills out a to-do list or surfaces hidden problems like a prototype. Watch everything in detail in the video tour, embedded below.
Continue reading “DIY Haptic-Enabled VR Gun Hits All The Targets”
Virtual reality is a slow-moving field in some respects. While a lot of focus is put on optical technologies and headsets, there’s a lot more involved when it comes to believably placing a human being in a virtual environment. So far, we’ve gotten a good start at the visuals and head tracking, but interaction technology is still lagging behind a lot. [Lucas] is working in just that area, iterating heavily on his homebrew VR gloves.
The gloves consists of potentiometers, fitted with spools and attached to the tip of each digit on a wearer’s hand by a string. As the user curls their fingers, the potentiometers turn and the position of the fingers can be measured. The potentiometers are all read via an Arduino, which communicates back to a PC via USB. A custom driver is then used to interact with Valve’s SteamVR software, allowing the glove to be used with a wide variety of existing software.
Thus far, the system is merely tracking finger position, but the spool and string based design is intended to support motors down the line for each finger to create resistance, so the user can gain the feeling of touching and interacting with virtual objects. The project has the potential to be a cheaper, more accessible alternative than current off-the-shelf solutions. We’ve seen other hand-tracking gloves before, too – though none that track the spread of a wearer’s hand as well as the finger extension. If you’re working on precisely that, please do drop us a line. Video after the break.
Continue reading “Virtual Reality Gloves Aim To Improve Interactivity”
Join us on Wednesday, April 7 at noon Pacific for the Haptics Hack Chat with Tim Szeto and Kyle Skippon!
Of all our senses, the sense of touch is perhaps the most underappreciated. We understand and accept the tragedy that attends loss of vision or hearing, and the impact on the quality of life resulting from olfactory and gustatory sensations can be severe. But for some reason, we don’t give a second thought to our sense of touch, which is indeed strange given that we are literally covered with touch sensors. That’s a bit of a shame, since touch can reveal so much about the world around us, and our emotional well-being is so tightly tied to the tactile senses that those deprived of it in infancy can be scarred for life.
Haptics is the technology of tactile feedback, which seeks to leverage the human need for tactile experiences to enrich the experience of dealing with the technological world. Haptic feedback devices are everywhere now, and have gone far beyond the simple off-balance motor used since the days when a pager was a status symbol. To help us sort out what’s new in the haptics world, Tim and Kyle from Nanoport Technology will stop by the Hack Chat. Nanoport is a company on the cutting edge of haptics, so they’ll have a wealth of details about what haptics are, where the field is going, and how you can start thinking about making touch a part of your projects.
Our Hack Chats are live community events in the Hackaday.io Hack Chat group messaging. This week we’ll be sitting down on Wednesday, April 7 at 12:00 PM Pacific time. If time zones have you tied up, we have a handy time zone converter.
Click that speech bubble to the right, and you’ll be taken directly to the Hack Chat group on Hackaday.io. You don’t have to wait until Wednesday; join whenever you want and you can see what the community is talking about.
Continue reading “Haptics Hack Chat With Nanoport Technology”
Rumble first hit the gaming mainstream back in the mid-1990s, and has become de rigeur for console players using gamepads ever since. It’s less prevalent on the PC, because most players rely on keyboards and mice that are rumble-free. However, innovation is possible, and [ilge] put together a modified mouse for shooters that has an excellent recoil feedback device.
The feedback effect is run by an Arduino, which receives serial data from a Python program running on the host computer. When the mouse is clicked, the Python program notifies the Arduino, which then fires a bank of four solenoids repeatedly back-and-forth to generate the feedback effect. The solenoids are triggered by a relay, which is an easy way to switch such a load, though we suspect it may not hold up well over time due to the rapid fire rate and the likelihood of spark damage over time from high inrush current to the solenoids.
It’s a simple build that nonetheless adds a great haptic feedback effect to the otherwise humble computer mouse. While we don’t expect to see pros using the device anytime soon, it’s a great concept that does add to the shooter experience. Similar hardware could likely be put to great use in a VR context, too. The state of the art of haptic technology continues to move at a rapid pace, and we can’t wait to see what comes next. Video after the break.
Continue reading “A Gaming Mouse With Recoil Feedback”
Virtual reality holds the promise of an immersive experience that can satisfy our senses to a level comparable with… well, reality. The field has come a long way, but Sarah Vollmer makes a good point that many of the VR systems currently in use are bulky and difficult to transfer from person to person.
While headsets have become smaller and lighter and now feature improved motion tracking and resolution, their ability to affect the user’s other senses hasn’t seen nearly the same advancement. Haptic feedback systems need to catch up with headsets, and how to unobtrusively allow users feel simulated physical contact in VR is an area Sarah is researching as part of her PhD work. This is the topic of her 2019 Hackaday Superconference talk which you’ll find embedded below.
Continue reading “In Pursuit Of Haptics For A Better VR Experience”
[Jakob Kilian] is working on a glove that he hopes will let the blind “see” their surroundings.
One of the most fascinating examples of the human brain’s plasticity is in its ability to map one sense to another. Some people, for example, report being able to see sound, giving them a supernatural ability to distinguish tones. This effect has also been observed in the visually impaired. There are experiments where grids of electrodes were placed on the tongue or mechanical actuators were placed on the lower back. The signals from a camera were fed into these grids and translated in to shocks or movement. The interesting effect is that the users quickly learned to distinguish objects from this low resolution input. As they continued to use these devices they actually reported seeing the objects as their visual centers took over interpreting this input.
Most of these projects are quite bulky and the usual mess you’d expect from a university laboratory. [Jakob]’s project appears to trend to a much more user-friendly product. A grid of haptics are placed on the back of the user’s hand along with a depth camera. Not only is it somewhat unobtrusive, the back of the hand is very sensitive to touch and the camera is in a prime position to be positioned for a look around the world.
[Jakob] admits that, as an interaction designer, his hardware hacking skills are still growing. To us, the polish and thought that went into this is already quite impressive, so it’s no wonder he’s one of the Hackaday Prize Finalists.
A big challenge in the VR world is getting haptic feedback no matter where you are. That’s not so much of a problem when you’re sitting in a chair, the hardware can be attached to the chair or to something near you, what’s referred to as grounded force-feedback. But with VR, we’ve gotten used to at least moving around a room. How then do you feel the recoil of a gun, the pressure against a shield, the inertia of a sword slicing through the air, or the pulsations of magic sword emitting lightning?
A team of researchers at the [MAKinteract Lab] at KAIST, a university in South Korea, have come up with a small device which straps to your wrist and provides all those types of feedback. It’s called the Wind-Blaster and consists of two ducted propellers which can provide up to 1.5N of force. Both propellers are mounted on servos, and with the help of an IMU, the propellers are oriented as needed. An Arduino doing PWM controls the motor speeds.
Fire a VR shotgun and the propellers quickly spin up to 33,000 RPM for just 250 ms, giving your lower arm a quick backward tug, providing the feel of a recoiling gun. Swing a VR sword through the air and the propellers rotate at 33,000 RPM for 400 ms and then linearly decelerate to a stop in 300 ms. Making the propellers move asynchronously with respect to each other causes rotation torque on your arm for a pulsating feeling for the magic lightning-emitting sword. A connected PC runs the games using the Unity game engine. As with drones, there is noise at around 41 dB but the user’s headphones block it out. Watch it in action in the videos below.
Here on Hackaday, we’ve covered few more ungrounded haptic feedback systems. There’s one which responds to light, another which lets you feel textures, and a glove which gets feedback as it controls a robotic gripper.
Continue reading “Wind-Blaster: Haptic Feedback That’ll Make You Recoil”