August 20, 2020 – Tactical Haptics, a developer of modular virtual reality (VR) haptic game controllers that provide realistic and intuitive touch feedback, has today announced a series of updates to its product line. The company stated that it has taken feedback that it received over the last year and focused its latest development efforts on embodying this into new hardware and focused VR experiences that are designed to go beyond simple tech demos.
Key developments covered below:
- Multi-Pose magnet sockets for Quest
- New cylindrical form factor controller, SaberGrip
- Modular actuator modules for embedding in custom devices
- Sword fighting experience
- Two-Handed SaberGrip
- Fishing hardware and sim experience
Multi-Pose magnet sockets for Quest
Firstly, Tactical Haptics has made a version of its Multi-Pose magnet sockets that can be used directly with standard Oculus Quest controllers, taking into account the human ergonomics for different sized people to ensure a relatively universal design. According to the company, this development was supported, in part, by its National Science Foundation (NSF) Phase IIB grant (IIP-1632341).
The resulting Multi-Pose magnet socket design for Quest is a sleeve that slides over the handle of the Quest controller with a second part that hooks onto the Quest controller’s tracking hoop and clips back to the sleeve. The prototype shown in the image above shows how the controllers can be configured to resemble the following poses: machine gun, gamepad, handle bar, and shotgun/ rifle. Tactical Haptics states that it is still considering next steps, as much of its time has been focused on bringing a new form factor of the haptic controller to production.
New cylindrical form factor controller, SaberGrip
The design of Tactical Haptics’ new cylindrical form-factor controller, SaberGrip, is also an offshoot of the research from its NSF Phase IIB grant (IIP-1632341), where the company designed a lower-cost, cylindrical, single-board version of its modular controller for the toy industry. The design has been upgraded to add internal battery charging and tracking support for Oculus, SteamVR, Vicon, and OptiTrack.
The resulting SaberGrip design includes the same haptic actuation drivetrain as the modular haptic controllers for moving the controller’s sliding plates. The company also stated: “Before the pandemic shuttered the doors of most location-based VR arcades, these controllers were selling quite well for both VR arcade and VR training applications (e.g., heavy industry, construction, etc.), despite the design being new and just being available as 3D-printed prototypes. The sales into VR training was in-part bolstered by a new VR training tech demo that we had put together that includes a ratcheting wrench, screw driver, drill driver, hammer, nail gun, handsaw, winch, jack, and bike pump.”
Modular actuator modules for embedding in custom devices
Through discussion with potential partners, Tactical Haptics stated that many asked about making their own devices and embedding the company’s shear feedback solution within. Recognizing that it now has two form factors of controllers, Tactical Haptics added that it also has two form factors of actuators (in-line and right angle actuator designs). As a result, the company is able to work with partners that are interested in integrating shear feedback into devices that are radically different from both its Modular Haptic controller and SabreGrip form factors.
The below image demonstrates how, in the case of the light saber, the sliding plates themselves could be an actual part of a third-party device that Tactical Haptics’ shear actuator is embedded within.
Sword fighting experience
To show the potential for what shear feedback could add to a VR sword fighting experience, the company has made a whole new sword-fighting experience, which includes an active robot opponent and options for 5 difficulty levels. Players have the option of a single sword, sword-shield, or sword-sword for themselves and the robot opponent. Tactical Haptics added that other melee weapons could also be included in the future, and envisioned a VR gladiator experience with all the corresponding weapons.
Future company efforts include incorporating sword fighting between two human opponents – first locally, and then over a network, with the goal of using this as the basis for setting up an eSports/tournament system.
More recently, Tactical Haptics has prototyped a two-handed cylindrical SaberGrip controller. This was apparently due to combined inquiries and interest in using its haptic controllers for everything from sword fighting, to racket/bat sports and even golfing, as well as applications in VR training to represent a lever, pry bar, shovel, or other tool handle. The result is a haptic controller that works for either one or two-handed interactions, and the company states that it looks forward to adding it to its controller lineup.
Fishing hardware and sim experience
Finally, Tactical Haptics has announced that it has created a new fishing simulation as another offshoot of the SaberGrip controller. In the experience, users can feel the tug of a fish thanks to the controller’s shear feedback. Plus, the experience includes the addition of an instrumented fishing reel attachment, which includes a programmable brake that provides increased brake resistance when the fish is pulling hard.
With all its newly announced developments, Tactical Haptics states that it is currently looking at a wide range of business opportunities to pursue. In the instance of the fishing experience, these opportunities include partnering with arcade makers to integrate with current fishing experiences to get into family entertainment centers, bars, and other venues, and also placing the experience into outdoors stores. Additionally, the company is considering potentially augmenting its simulation as a training tool for places like Orvis, which currently offers both group and individual fishing lessons, as well as partnering with virtual fishing tournaments and other eSports opportunities.
For more detailed information on Tactical Haptics latest development announcements, you can view the full press release here.
Image / video credit: Tactical Haptics / YouTube
About the author
Sam is the Founder and Managing Editor of Auganix. With a background in research and report writing, he has been covering XR industry news for the past five years.