It’s often said that seeing is believing, but with virtual reality, touch is a critical part of an immersive visual experience. But the current generation of VR input controls are stuck in the previous generation of gaming tech. Today at Disrupt’s Startup Battlefield, H2L is launching its UnlimitedHand controller that actually lets you feel what’s happening in the game.
The Tokyo-based H2L works through an advanced haptic feedback armband able to target the muscles in your arm that control each finger and deliver precise responses that mirror onscreen actions.
I met with H2L founder Ken Iwasaki, who told me that he wasn’t all that impressed with the current iterations of virtual reality controllers that were being prototyped and shown off to consumers. I had a chance to try on the UnlimitedHand controller and test out the haptic engine. The experience was pretty wild.
Emi Tamaki, H2L’s CTO guided me through a demo of the prototype as the armband delivered sensations to each of my fingers in a way that made it feel like I was actually touching something that wasn’t there.
The device’s applications for VR gaming are far-reaching, but as with most ground-breaking virtual reality consumer tech on the market right now, this device really just scratches the surface of what one once thought was possible. UnlimitedHand gives you the ability to feel the trigger being pulled on a gun you pick up, feel the strings of a guitar being played, etc.
The controller lacks any analog controls, a tough compromise for hardcore gamers. Other VR companies like Oculus say they’ve experimented with utilizing purely motion controls and haven’t been able to strike a sweet spot balancing playability with the futuristic control set. These prototype controllers boast the standard accelerometers and gyroscopic sensors that allow you to control your in-game movements, though this generation of hardware still seemed less precise in that regard than other offerings that more accurately match movements.
The UnlimitedHand also has some early yet-to-be-formally-announced support from some hallmark gaming franchises working on their first pieces of content for virtual reality. It’s clear there’s some mutual excitement from game developers and hardware makers about offering gamers truly unique VR experiences.
Right now, H2L is still in the midst of finessing the look and feel of the UnlimitedHand. Today, H2L is launching their Kickstarter in which they hope to raise $20k. They’re charging $188 for those among the first to hop-on to buying a device.
Devices are expected to ship in May of 2016.