Fit gamers use VR controllers like the Vive wands to pick up shiny katana swords or to pull the trigger of a ranged weapon to stop vicious aliens from taking away precious score points. So, why use Sensoryx’s VRFree glove as a VR controller? We’ll tell you why.
What is the VRFree Glove?
The VRFree glove is a wireless full hand and finger tracking system that pairs with a triangular sensor attached to the front of the VR headset. VRFree is not a haptic glove like Manus or HaptX, where the user can touch a virtual object and feel its size and weight in their hands. Rather, it’s a cable-free glove that you can use in VR that can replace handheld controllers.
Pinpoint accurate tracking sensors are located inside the fabric of the glove, making it useful for drawing and design in VR, as well as interacting with virtual objects in a more intuitive way than controllers. The VRFree gloves free the hand from the grips of the controller, making it easier for the hands to simulate the act of grabbing, punching, or even social gestures like waving hello in VR chat.
No Buttons, No Problem
Upload VR’s David Jagneaux demoed the VRFree gloves and put them under some virtual pressure to test their application. The tech writer played a virtual piano that smoothly tracked his individual finger movements but also got do some shooting in VR. Firing off an invisible gun was easy to do with their demo game, just point the virtual weapon towards the target, hold the trigger finger in a gesture where the trigger would be, and then pull the trigger for release.
With zero buttons and zero remembering how to use those buttons with every new VR game release, players are left to enjoy, fight, and exercise in VR without controllers controlling them! With the new Vive Pro and Wireless Adaptor turning old and new Vives into wireless HMD’s, adding a glove system like VRFree to the mix could turn VR gaming into an actual standalone and free-roam experience for home, large-scale, and location-based experiences; as well as for Vsports and training experiences.
(This post has been edited on 2/5/17)
It’s not a controller.
VR gamers online have argued that VRFree won’t be able to compete with Valve’s Knuckle controllers and have insisted that finger tracking has already been done by the Oculus Touch. If you don’t mind holding onto sweaty plastic when you’re working out, having a safety cord wrapped around your wrist to keep it from flying off into the computer monitor, or having an object clasped onto your hand, then by all means, go for the controllers. If you want a fully immersive and intuitive VR experience while you navigate your way around VR spaces, you’ll want to go for the gloves when they’re released to the public.
How do you wash it?
There’s no word on how to clean the gloves when they get drenched in sweat after a round in Bitslap or Fallout 4 VR. Is this a cold cycle wash or a hand wash only kind of deal? Are the sensors and wires waterproof?
VR Free says: Washing gloves after sweaty workout: no problem! the sensors and wires in the glove are waterproof, you can handwash them after removing the wrist module that is connected via a plug. We wouldn’t put them in the washing machine (they won’t get THAT dirty anyway).
That battery life.
How do you charge the VRFree gloves? Do they use a USB charger or something else? It says on their site that the gloves have a long battery life, but how long will they actually go for with light to heavy use?
VR Free says: The gloves and headmount all come with the same type of rechargeable battery. It lasts ~5 hours, but if you have spares you can quickly replace them while recharging the others. Charging is easy, via a USB-C port.
Can I put pressure on the fingers?
If you do bodyweight exercises like burpees and one-handed pushups (I can only dream) in between lulls in action during VR gaming, can the gloves tech withstand body weight and pressure? Should we avoid crawling on the floor and being acrobatic to not break it?
VR Free says: Pressure on the gloves. We did quite some stress testing with the gloves at the Swiss Indoors in Oct’17 where >800 people tried them out with a tennis game. Quite a couple of them ran into the wall with stretched out hands despite our warnings during the game. Fortunately no one got hurt. The glove survived this without a scratch. That doesn’t mean we advise you to take on the walls around you.
VR Fitness Potential
VRFree gloves look like training and weightlifting gloves that you’d wear at the gym. They have a fingertip-less design for the main 4 fingers, with full coverage for the thumbs. Not much is known about how well the VRFree gloves can withstand weight and pressure, but they can be used as a virtual controller that turns your hands into weapons and tools.
I could see how VR boxing games like BOX VR, Soundboxing, and The Thrill of the Fight could be exciting to use with VRFree gloves. Controllers get in the way of a full closed fist while wearing VRFree gloves would let you close that fist, making the workout more enjoyable and realistic.
Sensoryx’s VRFree is compatible with high-end headsets like HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, and also works with mobile headsets like Gear VR and Daydream headsets. It is compatible with SteamVR content and is wireless.