#189: What’s new with the Tactical Haptics’ Reactive Grip Controller?

William ProvancherTactical Haptics is working on bringing realistic haptic touch feedback to virtual reality applications. William Provancher was at SVVRCon 2015, and I had a chance to catch up with him again since our first interview at SVVRCon 2014. He had a lot of updates in terms of their technology updates, but also the wide range of different funding sources to get their venture going.

William comes out of the academic world of doing fundamental research into human perception in order to understand how sheer cues could communicate direction information. Tactical Haptics is one of the more innovative companies within the consumer VR community in finding research grants to continue their haptics research. He talks about a couple of grants including one from NASA in order to provide more haptic feedback when performing physical interactions with a tele-robot as well as a grant from the National Science Foundation to research what a minimum viable haptic product for video games might be.

We discuss the implications of the uncanny valley, the tradeoffs involved, and what happens when there’s a mismatch between the mental model in your mind and the expectations of a higher-fidelity VR experience that includes hand tracking. William talks about some of their experiments with finger tracking in combination with providing some haptic feedback.

William also talks about some of their latest hand tracking technologies that they’re using including a hybrid between inertial and optical tracking, and how some of the early discussions with OSVR integration and potential for Lighthouse integration. He says that the sweetspot for Reactive Grip controller is when it’s representing physical interactions where you’re holding onto a tool. Finally, he talks about some of their future plans including continuing to search for grant and investment opportunities, getting prototypes into the hands of developers and partners, and making the controllers fully wireless.

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