Consumers are still getting to grips with virtual reality and trying to decide whether to jump on board yet. Meanwhile, Mark Zuckerberg is keeping a close eye on what the research arm of Oculus is up to, with the latest R&D project being virtual reality gloves.
Right now, there’s the Oculus Rift headset and Oculus Touch controllers, which allow six degrees of motion tracking for your hands. What the Oculus Research lab in Redmond, Wash., is working on is a pair of gloves that bring the full movement range of your hands and fingers into a virtual world. By wearing them, you’ll be able to type on a virtual keyboard and draw with a high degree of accuracy.
As the image above shows, these prototype gloves aren’t hooked up to the Oculus tracking system yet. Instead they rely on an array of trackers focused on the area where Zuckerberg is moving his glove-covered hands.
As TechCrunch points out, the VR gloves probably aren’t brand new tech Oculus developed internally. Oculus acquired Pebbles Interfaces last year, which already had a virtual reality hand tracking system in development. This is likely an extension of that tech.
Zuckerberg also points out that the research lab is working on reducing the size of the headsets to glasses we can carry anywhere. He also mentions “advanced optics, eye tracking, mixed reality and new ways to map the human body” in his Facebook post about the lab visit.
Don’t hold your breath waiting for this next-generation of Oculus-branded VR technology to appear. The gloves may work, but they currently use a dedicated sensor array not shipped with the Oculus headset. There’s also a question mark over how much processing power and data storage Oculus will need to deal with in order to detect and react to finger and hand movement in real-time.
I’m sure the gloves will be perfected and offered to the public, I just don’t think Oculus will have the tech ready for quite a while. And let’s not forget Sony won’t be standing still in developing new peripherals for PlayStation VR.