Natural hand tracking and integration is the current gold-rush for the virtual reality industry. Much has been made of the fact that the HTC Vive will ship with tracked hand controllers and its chief competitor – the Oculus Rift – will not. Additionally, Leap Motion’s peripheral sensor tracks your hands wirelessly and is compatible with most major HMDs. As competition in this ecosystem continues to heat up, one challenger is preparing to make a major splash by announcing a $250 development kit available for pre-order now: the ManusVR Glove.
The ManusVR solution to VR hand tracking is a pair of bluetooth-enabled gloves. The digits on the gloves contain sensors that are capable of understanding exactly what each of your fingers are doing and relaying that information directly into your virtual experience. The gloves also combine sensors like those found in your smartphone to more fully track the movements and positions of your hands.
The $250 developer kit marks the company’s first foray out of the protyping stage and a major leap toward a commercial release. According to the company’s official purchase page, developers will receive:
- One pair of Manus gloves (left and right)
- 2x wrist mounted holders for the HTC Vive controller
- 2x Micro usb cable
- USB Dongle for low latency connection
- SDK for Android, Windows 7+, Linux, iOS 9, Mac OSX
- Plug-ins for Unity and Unreal
- Manus VR demo game for each supported platform
Those wrist mounted Vive controller harnesses are included as part of Manus VR’s ongoing initiative to incorporate the lighthouse positional tracking system into its gloves. The only feasible way to achieve this goal right now is for developers to physically strap the Vive controllers onto the Manus gloves. However, once these kits are out in the wild it will only be a matter of time before the development community can come up with a more elegant solution.
The demo game mentioned in the kit package above is entitled Willow’s Pillow. This is a VR take on the assisted platformer genre. You the player will be tasked with using your Manus VR-powered hands to move obstacles and construct paths capable of guiding the titular Willow out of danger and safely to her goal.
Interested developers should pre-order to reserve a spot in line. Because a final shipping date has yet to be set, Manus VR will accept pre-orders without payment and notify their participants two months before the release with updated information.