Microsoft research works on “touching” virtual reality objects

Microsoft Research has presented a new way to interact with virtual reality by touch. As haptic solutions for virtual reality, NormalTouch and TextureTouch 3D haptic shape controllers are able to explore the virtual space with just your finger. Currently, the controller only supports the index finger, but who knows what else could be developed with further innovations.

The 3D objects are tracked in virtual reality with the Optitrack system and presented through the Oculus Rift headset.  The NormalTouch renders the surface of virtual objects by using a flat platform that tilts, extrudes, and turns based on the shape of the digital objects. The TextureTouch uses a matrix of 4×4 pins that give the finger the impression of the shape by rising and falling based on the shape. This controller gives a finer detail into the texture, letting the sixteen pins bump up and down for coarser 3D objects.

Thanks to the OptiTrack system, the controllers are limited from penetrating through virtual objects and can even detail the softness of each digital surface. Touching a ‘soft’ object would impress more than pressing against the more ‘firm’ object in which the pins wouldn’t move.


During testing, users were able to have a more productive experience with virtual reality by involving the haptic controllers. Studied alongside the currently available vibrotactile device, both controllers had excelling areas such as a higher accuracy of touch with the TextureTouch.

Read the full research submitted for more details. Let us know in the comments if you’re looking forward to these sorts of advances in virtual reality.

Google looks for content makers to test its Jump virtual reality video camera


imageIf you're an aspiring virtual reality content producer, Google wants to give you a chance to test the Jump camera system it developed for recording video to be used in VR environments.
People interested in trying their hand at capturing 360-degree video with Jump can fill out a form Google posted on Monday that asks basic biographical questions as well as details on how they would use the system.

Google didn't say how many "select creators" it would chose, but those who are picked will be able to start using the 16-camera rig this summer.

Google seems especially interested in people with creative backgrounds. The jobs that people can select in the form's occupation section include filmmaker, director, artist and production staff -- but there is an "other" section that allows write-ins if none of the above apply. 
There's also a section where applicants can explain why they want to test Jump -- and "awesome answers might put you at the top of the list," Google said.

Google worked with GoPro to build Jump, which has 16 of the company's Hero4 cameras attached to a circular frame. Jump's price and availability weren't provided when the rig was shown at Google's I/O developer's conference in May. However, given that a Hero4 camera retails for approximately $500, initial Jump buyers will likely have deep pockets.
The first videos created with Jump will appear on YouTube this summer, Google said at I/O. People will be able to experience them via the Google Cardboard viewer.