Logitech Is Working On A VR Keyboard That Works With Vive Tracker

by Ian Hamilton • November 2nd, 2017

Logitech is working with developers on a solution that brings keyboards into VR using HTC’s Vive Tracker.

The VR keyboard developer’s kit is being distributed to a small set of creators to make software and apps that use the capability. This BRIDGE kit, as it is called, could be a boon to apps like VR Desktop and Bigscreen, each of which already appear to be working with the system. Those VR apps are an obvious fit for the solution because they offer ways to interact with all the traditional apps on your computer while wearing a PC-powered headset, but the keyboard could also lead to the creation of new VR apps that incorporate traditional keyboard input while also extending the amount of time people spend in VR overall. Needing to access your keyboard while inside VR is such a hurdle that some manufacturers are designing VR headsets with flip-up displays that make it easier to pop out for a minute to type something.

The BRIDGE developers kit works by attaching a Vive Tracker to a specific spot on the Logitech G gaming keyboard. Logitech will be “seeding 50 of these kits to select developers with the goal of partnering to create compelling new experiences centered around a VR keyboard.” Applications to get one of the kits will be accepted through Nov. 16, and if interest is great enough they may build additional units later.

According to a blog post by Logitech’s Vincent Tucker:

We’ve created a way for the HTC Vive Tracker to represent a keyboard across the Steam VR system. It is this software piece that presents the user with an overlaid virtual representation of their keyboard in any VR application, complete with animations when keys are pressed. It’s compatible with all apps that are developed based on SteamVR. The developer’s application does not need to manage anything, the overlay appears automatically as soon as the associated Vive Tracker is turned on. It also affords the opportunity to skin the keyboard in a variety of ways, as mentioned above, allowing developers to create unique experiences for their communities.

Our work didn’t stop there, we know that for a true typing experience you need to see your hands, and we’ve created a way to use the Vive’s existing tracking to do that. We’ve put in a lot of hard work to develop this experience so far and we know it can go much further with the creativity of the developer community.

I’m very curious to hear more details about that latter feature. The Vive headset features an outward-facing camera that hasn’t been used for much since the hardware’s debut and tracking finger movements would certainly be a big use. We’ll follow up as we learn more about this solution.

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  • VR Geek

    About time.

  • Dude

    50 kits….comon how about 500 instead…50 is so cheap for a company as big as logitech.

  • K E

    Wow, what an unambitious product. Logitech is one of the biggest peripheral companies in the world, a company that rightfully should be spearheading the development of actual VR interaction. It decides to join the VR revolution… by sticking a Vive puck to a regular keyboard. “We’ve put in a lot of hard work to develop this experience so far”…err, no you haven’t.

    How about a VR controller with sensitive enough finger sensing to represent keyboard input directly through the controller. That would be something.

  • Citizen One

    OMG, LOL! … Logitech, you are soooo far behind the curve!!!
    It is saddening and embarrassing to see what Logi is doing here. Have they thought about how completely useless this tool/SDK is? 1) How many users are sitting at their desks eager to type on a keyboard when using VR? The whole idea of VR is to have an immersive experience ie using your hands, your feet, your whole body! Have they done any market Research, consumer surveys with their target group? No! This is not only utterly off in terms of what users want and need, it also discredits the reputation of them as an innovative company.
    Come up with something truly innovative in VR please, otherwise please just remain silent on this frontier and continue to build old legacy hardware.
    Best,
    CitizenOne

    • cirby

      Sitting at my desk in VR? Seldom.

      Need to use the keyboard for things while I’m in VR? Often.

      Social VR will definitely need a keyboard, and this is a wonderful way of making it easily available without dropping out of VR. I would much, MUCH rather be able to walk over and tap a few keys than have to pull my headset off to do the same thing.

      • Citizen One

        Social VR works perfect with direct interaction ie mic/spoken words. Why would anyone want a keyboard when using future social VR. It defies the whole concept of VR…

        • cirby

          Some people are shy.

          Some people prefer text over talking.

          Some people have strong accents, speech impediments, or are mute.

          Social VR does NOT “work perfect” for those people.

          Voice also doesn’t work worth a damn when exchanging certain types of technical information, like long URLs.

          • Citizen One

            Let’s get this straight: VR is a great novel medium. It offers tremendous new experiences and opportunities as well as immersion, sense of presence … particularly BECAUSE we cant get rid of interfering devices and controllers like a keyboard. If you want to use a keyboard, fine, but then you dont need to have an HMD on your head. You can just use your 2D screen since that’s what you see in VR as well… You haven’t understood the concept of VR, I am afraid.

          • cirby

            No, I understand it very well.

            You, however, seem to have a very weird and narrow idea of “how VR works,” and nobody is going to follow your odd and very restrictive concept of how you think it should be.

            Taking the headset off to use a keyboard is the worst thing you could do – it breaks immersion completely. It goes i nthe opposite direction of what you claim to want to do.

          • Ian Tomlinson

            But what if i want to play say world of warcarft on a 5k by 3k rez big screen, when i don’t have the room for such a large monitor setup, But i have a HMD that takes less space and lets me play how i want. and use a Keyboard at the same time without having to take off the HMD. Let there be options for people and not to narrow one’s choice on what they can use, in the confines of there personal space.

  • mirak

    I don’t understand why they just don’t use the vive camera so we could see our real fingers.

    You would just have to track the shape of a keyboard.

    • jlink

      There is only one Vive camera, so you wouldn’t be seeing in stereo. If you’ve tried the passthrough mode on the Vive then you’ll know that trying to interact with things in reality is difficulty since you have no depth perception and the camera FOV doesn’t match your eyes. That and there would be no way to separate your hands from anything else in the video feed.

      • mirak

        Still it wouldn’t be harder than to not see your hands at all.

        • EMJ

          Frontal cameras do not work really well for hand/finger tracking. I’ve tried the leap motion attached to a vive and although the system itself works pretty well it’s not a really good match with a vr headset because your hands need to be in front of the camera at all time or you lose tracking. It may not seem like a big deal but it really is. After 2 minutes with your hands likes this it gets annoying and tiring. Definitely not an enjoyable experience on the long run.

  • Matt Stone

    Seems kinda unnecessary. The keyboard isn’t useful when you are walking around in vr, and a useful trick is to have the shaparone follow the shape of your desk for an inch or two so you can roughly see where it is in vr. With that I have never had a problem finding home row by touch.

    • dk

      it’s a tracked monitor….not just a console

  • Ian Tomlinson

    I like this idea, I could play other games not just room VR games instead and enjoy games in a larger screen format like what Big Picture does and have a more cinema feel and still be able to talk to others without having to use the small camera on the vive or lifting up the HuD. more options the better i think.

    • Dude

      yea its cool I would also pay for it

  • TDUBS

    Um……..we can make virtual keybboards and add some haptic feedback. This is a dumb idea. Oculus Dash should add a keyboard. If it does it will be the perfect in game UI.