Control VR is a startup which has created a wearable system that captures precise motion data for virtual reality applications. On its Kickstarter page (which has raised $388,000, or more than 150% of its goal with 13 days left to go) the most intriguing use shown for its gloves and armbands is using its exact finger-digit tracking to simulate a keyboard in virtual reality, which could open the door to a number of productive VR applications beyond gaming and teleconferencing.
The control schemes available for use with virtual reality headsets like the Oculus Rift are great for gaming or other experiences where you’re mostly just moving around in your environment. You basically only need an analog stick or direction pad to control movement and a few buttons to control interactions with the environment or to bring up menus.
But some of the more useful applications for virtual reality, like being able to use a vast number of virtual displays instead of being limited by the number of physical monitors you own, don’t work too well with complicated physical controls like keyboards because you can’t see what buttons you’re pushing.
Take a look at this photo of Andreessen Horowitz board partner Steven Sinofsky testing out a Bloomberg terminal in virtual reality, for example:
You could have a vast amount of information available to you in a VR office, but it would be relatively difficult to be productive with it using only a mouse and the keystrokes you can memorize.
With the ability to finely track finger location and movement, you could bring up a keyboard in the virtual space and forgo the hardware altogether. Just as the iPhone dropped most hardware buttons for a screen that could only show the buttons you need at any given time, virtual interfaces could be built specifically for each application from familiar gestures.
Control VR CEO and co-founder Alex Sarnoff thinks that its wearables working in concert with the cameras that will come with Oculus Rift and its ilk will enable these kinds of interfaces. In an interview via email, he told me:
The sensors and software we use provide for incredibly accurate clean data and are a testament to many years of research, development and progress by our founders. “Virtual Office” is an application we are extremely excited to see come to fruition. The input solution virtual reality needs for perfect accuracy will be a combination of our wearable technology combined with data from the camera supplied with VR headsets.
Of course, virtual reality headsets have nowhere near the market penetration for most offices to consider putting anyone into a virtual environment any time soon. To appeal to the gamer crowd that Oculus and Sony (with Project Morpheus) are going after, Control VR also shows several other uses for its sensors, including an Iron Man-style flight simulator (and an unfortunate amount of virtual beer pong):