CES 2018: Tactical Haptics Shows New Reconfigurable Controllers

For several years Tactical Haptics has been showing different concepts for controllers that offer a sense of touch for your hands while wearing a VR headset, and the company’s latest iteration is debuting this week at CES in Las Vegas. The new design can be reconfigured to match different VR experiences.
The idea is that the new Tactical Haptics controllers can be used on their own in each hand or attached together to become different objects like a steering wheel, game pad or gun. According to CEO William Provancher, they apply “friction and shear forces through actuated plates on the surface of the controller handles, which creates tactile illusions of inertia, elasticity, impact, etc, when these shear forces are applied in response to the user’s actions.” The latest controllers from Tactical Haptics also do this combined with the idea that, when they are reconfigured, they can more accurately match the shape of a particular object.

The company developed a game it calls Colony Defense to show off the capabilities. We’ll have a hands-on report once we get the chance to try the new controllers, but the experience is said to have a player defend a space colony against waves of insects. At one point the player assembles a gun turret and, according to Provancher, you can feel the heft of the turret pieces and the “detent forces” as they pop into place.
IMAX is currently using an earlier version of Tactical Haptics controllers to enhance immersion with the Justice League experience at its VR centers, and Tactical Haptics plans to focus on location-based VR entertainment in the future for potential roll-outs of its systems. The controllers use 3rd party tracking currently, with mounts for both Oculus Touch and Vive Tracker.
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