Microsoft unveils force feedback VR controller for gripping small objects

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Tere Vida Mombiela
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Summary

  • Microsoft CapstanCrunch is the smallest force-feedback VR controller today

At present, it is difficult to simulate contact with an object in virtual reality. The accessories that simulate resistance are expensive, bulky, and require a lot of energy.

One of the main causes is that these accessories use large, very powerful actuators. In order to remedy this problem, researchers at Microsoft Research have developed a particularly innovative force feedback VR controller prototype.



Entitled ”CapstanCrunch“, the prototype uses a mechanism for amplifying the force of a relatively small motor by multiplying it up to 40 times. In this way, the motor will be strong enough for a human's strength, while consuming significantly less energy than existing solutions.

Microsoft CapstanCrunch is the smallest force-feedback VR controller today

This mechanism is applied to the thumb and forefinger, which allows simulate gripping a rigid object between these two fingers by applying force when the user's finger reaches the position of the virtual object. It is also possible to simulate softer objects by increasing the force as the user increases the pressure.

In addition, Microsoft unveils two examples of more advanced interactions made possible by this system. It is thus possible to connect two Lego blocks in the VR, or to cut cardboard using a pair of scissors in a realistic way. Until now, this type of complex interaction was simply avoided by VR game developers.

It is unlikely that the CapstanCrunch will become a product marketed by Microsoft, but this prototype confirms the involvement of researchers at the Redmond firm in the field of VR controllers. Already in May 2019, Microsoft unveiled another prototype called TORC, which allows the texture and shape of objects to be simulated in virtual reality. In the future, it is possible that these two technologies will be combined into a single controller for future Windows Mixed Reality headsets ...





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