Haptic feedback is essential in bringing player’s hands into VR worlds. Without it, our virtual fingers are little more than ghosts floating through items and surfaces. Touch technology company Immersion wants to bring that work to the next level.
The company is today announcing TouchSense Force, a combination of development software and hardware that it hopes will enhance haptic feedback in both existing game controllers and new devices to make for better VR experiences and other content. Already supported devices include Nintendo’s JoyCons for the Switch — which we previously speculated might make good controllers for VR — and Oculus’ own position-tracked VR controllers, Oculus Touch.
On the software side, Force features an Unreal Engine plug-in that includes a Visual Editor that allows developers to pinpoint the feedback controllers will give. There’s also an API to allow developers to do the same with their own custom engines. Essentially, the company is giving the developers of Oculus Touch games the tools to create more accurate haptic feedback that reflects specific situations, though we haven’t tested the kit out for ourselves.
On the hardware front, Immersion is offering a reference design that will allow OEMs to integrate Force into their own devices, with features like kinesthetic triggers that can replicate push and pull triggers, perhaps granting more realistic sensations of grabbing objects in VR. Perhaps we could see future SteamVR controllers or other VR devices implement the tech.
The company will be showing its tech at GDC next week. Anyone interested can request early access through an official site.
Immersion’s work is still very much confined to the controller, of course, and can only deliver so much resistance. Technology that stops us putting our hands and heads through virtual surfaces, or allows us to have far more realistic sword battles is still some ways off, but we’ll welcome any enhancements to existing systems in the meantime.