Why Does Virtual Touch Matter?
Of our five senses, the most important one as far as fitness goes is touch. Whether it is the feeling of the track under our feet or a weight in our hands, fitness is physical. Since its beginnings, one of VR’s biggest problems is how it doesn’t feel like virtual objects are really there. So even if there is a controller, you are very much aware of the virtual environment. Tactai and KOR-FX mean to bridge that gap with virtual touch.
Haptics (meaning any form of interaction involving touch) for VR show one of the many ways the technology is evolving. Right now, there is still plenty of development to go. The Tactai Touch is limited to one finger at a time and setting up the KOR-FX Gaming Vest is more of an art than a science.
But the products still spell out excitement for the future of VR. To get an idea, we took a look at 4 apps and thought about how virtual touch could make them better.
1) Zombies, Run!
Six to Start’s Zombies, Run! is billed as a running game and audio adventure. While the app can be used for an outdoor jog, a user can bring the game to the treadmill, too. The app features a Chase option. If the sound of zombies chasing you doesn’t motivate you enough to finish that last mile, I don’t know what will.
But what if a runner could feel the zombies grabbing at them as they inched closer? A runner can already hear “every guttural breath, every rattling groan.” It would definitely be one way to keep your heart rate up.
2) Ball Strike
Ball Strike comes to us from FitMaster Productions. In the game, the player uses their limbs to clear colorful balls from the screen as a timer counts down, the calories burned go up, and the music plays. One App Store reviewer calls it the love child of Dance Dance Revolution and cardio kickboxing.
As the game exists now, a player is merely waving limbs around. With the addition of haptics, they would be able to get feedback from hitting the balls. This would add one more layer of immersion that makes a player feel like they are actually influencing the virtual world.
3) Virtual Sparring Partner
In Virtual Sparring Partner, the user blocks and ducks under the punches of a virtual boxer. Between dodging the boxer’s punches, they can also throw combinations of their own. Precision Striking’s app is not meant to simulate an actual sparring session. Instead, it gives shadowboxing a visual reference.
Wearing gloves that responded whether or not they hit their opponent is one thing. The experience reaches the next level if they also felt the punches being thrown at them if they didn’t dodge correctly.
4) Pokemon GO
We couldn’t create this list without including what’s been called the fitness app of the year. The app is not dedicated to fitness, but it does encourage its players to go outside, explore, and take part in the oldest form of working out. Taking a walk.
Players will know all about the finicky physics their virtual Pokeballs operate on. Would something like the Tactai Touch allow them to throw the ball instead of swiping like any other app? Besides, what kind of Pokemon player hasn’t dreamed of doing that since childhood?
– Osmond Arnesto
Have you seen a really cool VR experience you think we should know about? Leave a comment below so we can check it out!