Virtual Reality is here – there’s no doubt about it. If you are reading this, chances are good that you may have heard of some of the latest VR gadgets and headsets to make headlines these past few years. The GearVR, Oculus Rift and HTC Vive all are impressive pieces of technology in their own right, and together they have made a really solid case for virtual reality as an industry.
While impressive in their own right, they are not the only players in the field, and to show you just how much amazing hardware is out there, we’re going to present you with the most amazing VR gadgets for you to try out this year.
Without further ado, let’s get on with the show!
Omnidirectional VR Treadmills
The first VR gadget on our list is going to be the hype-train surrounded around the virtual reality treadmills that began circulating on Kickstarter back in 2013. The notion that you can now put your best foot forward and march ahead as you make way through your favorite video game or interactive experience is an idea that has been the motivation of funding partners and pre-ordering customers worldwide. The first producer to receive global recognition for its use of movement-based technology was US-based Virtuix Omni. Since then, other producers has joined the fray, and Cyberith and Infinadeck are definitely brands worth a force to be reckoned with.
“Hands down the most immersive gaming experience we’ve seen so far.” – Business Insider
Allowing the user to interact with the environment in a way that involves actual physical movement is something that’s going to propel this industry forward, forever shattering the notion that virtual reality is solely for video gamers, living off of Cheetos in their mother’s basements! You might actually utilize these for exercise to lose a few pounds.
- “Omni Gaming Treadmill: Kill Some Monsters, Burn Some Calories” – Forbes
- “Run away from reality with the Virtuix Omni” – TechCrunch
Imagine, building up some muscle tone for your beach body while heroically charging towards a fire-breathing dragon in Skyrim, or frantically escaping brain-hungering ghouls on an Oculus-diet in horror-based experiences such as Resident Evil 7.
Virtual Reality Suits – Real Life Feedback
Next up on today’s list of VR gadgets is nothing short of the the kevlar vest of immersive technology. Up until now, VR content has relied on what you can see, and what you can hear. The concept of being able to actually feel, on your body what is going on in a game of your choosing seems like a far-fetched science fiction fantasy with no leg to stand on here in the real world. That’s not quite the case anymore, and it’s time to take a look at the suits. More specifically, the suits that have been built specifically for virtual reality and calibrated to give the wearer feedback from the game or experience at hand.
- “This haptic feedback VR suit could complete your VR look” – The Verge
- “Hardlight VR Suit will vibrate all of your bodily buttons” – TechCrunch
Businesses such as Araig and Hardlight have actually managed to pull of affordable technology that through the use of vibration pads and sensors lets you feel the sensations happening to you while immersed in a game or experience in VR.
“Now, a group of engineers wants to help people “touch” virtual environments in a more natural way, and they built a wearable suit to do just that.” – Jesse Emspak, Live Science
While these vests seem simple enough, and definitely appear to serve their basic function, some manufacturers have aimed a bit higher in terms of technical aspirations. AxonVR, for instance, has built an actual exoskeleton that has embraced the use of force feedback. Make sure to check out their launch video to get a better grasp of just how ambitious their project really is!
Haptical VR Gloves
One of the most limiting aspects of virtual reality and one of those things that may have annoyed some of the more sensitive first-wave buyers is the quality and general feel of the controllers available. VR gadgets must be convincing, but they should also be practical, and for all the high praise we can give the controllers from the first wave of VR – practical wasn’t one of them.
If you have a plan of truly surrendering yourself to an artificial environment, the need to bring on these two blocks of very tech-like sticks of the HTC Vive, for instance, can seem like it’s breaking the immersion a bit. This is where gloves such as the Dexmo, GloveOne or ManusVR comes into the picture.
“Hands are second-tier — sure, they’re in some demos, but they’re not your hands. The fingers don’t bend, they can’t grab and they don’t move as your appendages do in the real world. The Manus VR gloves fix this.” – Engadget
By letting you interact with your environment and digital experience with your fingers, you open your eyes to an entirely new way for developers around the globe to create content, and that’s something we’re looking forward to reporting on!
- “Releasing the Manus VR Gloves: The Pinnacle of VR Controllers” – IGN
- “Dexmo Exoskeleton glove helps you feel objects that exist in VR” – VentureBeat
One manufacturer worth paying special attention to is the Dexmo Exoskeleton glove, that lets you feel size, shape, and texture of objects in virtual reality through a truly impressive patented technology.
Roto VR – Mechanized Virtual Reality Chair
Up next is the pinnacle piece of VR gadgets for anyone who has ever wanted to learn how to drive through virtual technology, or just really has a thing for Podracers! Roto VR is a mechanized chair built for use with VR-based devices. It comes out-of-the-box with impressive 360° technology, allowing you to navigate omnidirectionally in whatever game you choose, by glancing in the direction you would like to go. If you are in any way a fan of high-speed car chases or spaceship-simulations you’re going to just love this piece of technology.
“A high-tech chair takes you to the next level of virtual reality” – Wall Street Journal
Apart from being the role as your Captain’s chair for many moons to come, Roto also brings with it a solution to the age-old VR-based conundrum – finding a workable solution to store away the endless pile of wires, so you don’t break anything. Roto has one power slot in the back of the chair, so you don’t have to worry about unplugging the whole thing when immersed in an experience or being in-game.
Leap Motion VR
Our final name on today’s list of VR gadgets is arguably one of the least tech-heavy ones and yet manages to be the one with the most potential, when it comes to spearheading the industry’s success. We all know that the elephant in the room when it comes to high-end VR is a number of expensive bits and pieces needed. Leap Motion makes it possible for you to use your hands to navigate in virtual reality without the use of either a glove or controllers of any kind.
- “Leap Motion Launches VR Headset Mount For Its Hand-Tracking Controller” – TechCrunch
- “Leap Motion aims for VR integration” – BBC
- “Forget controllers, use your hands: Leap Motion’s tracking tech hits mobile VR “ – Digital Trends
Facilitating a new way of training sign language, practicing surgery or learning piano are just a few of the first ideas that come to mind writing this, and I’m just a tech writer with a WordPress login. Imagine what kind of ideas will spring to mind when the sharp minds of university professors all over the globe start implementing these into their academic and practical research.
“Touching things in VR with your real hands is a total game changer” – Mashable
One of the most interesting things about Leap Motion is the sheer scope and scale of their community. With more than 200,000 developers currently involved Leap Motion is sure to be a well-respected brand in the business for years to come.
Manufacturers: Leap Motion
Summary: VR Gadgets
The above-mentioned VR gadgets all improve the way we utilize virtual reality and for that, they deserve our praise. As an industry, we rise and fall together, and we wish the brands mentioned here all the luck in the world. It’s a jungle out there!
Thank you for your visit to today’s list. If you come across an exciting, industry-breaking VR gadget that ought to be on our list, let us know in the comments section below.