Input Virtual Reality

Ground Control VR feet controllers keep you grounded while you flail your arms

Although virtual reality is poised to take the world by the storm at some point, that point is still a long way off. One of the biggest reasons why the promise of a fully immersive virtual reality hasn’t yet been fulfilled is because it’s challenging to create a world that users can effectively move around within.

patent-claimedReality Abstraction Industries is entering an already crowded arena with a new entrant, the Ground Control four axis joystick. Now, this isn’t a joystick for the hands, but rather for the feet, topped with a foot panel users can slide, rotate, or tilt in the real world to walk, run, jump, or turn in the virtual one. The product comes pre-configured, but each axis is customizable so that users can tailor them to their exact preferences. The Ground Control foot controllers cost $250 and are expected to ship in January 2016. Reality Abstraction Industries is looking for about $200,000 for molds and production by April 24.

While the product isn’t completely finished just yet, it does try to tackle the locomotion problem which has long been a hindrance on advancing the state of VR. Unfortunately, there are already a number of other extremely similar products on the market, like the 3DRudder, that do pretty much the same thing. Their downsides include a limited demographic appeal along with Windows-only support, to factors which clearly demonstrate the need for new concepts instead of rehashing older ones.

Input Video Games

3DRudder sets new course for game control from head to toe

Controlling interactive games by hand has long been the industry standard. Kinect and other motion-sensing systems have come along in recent years to enable players to control games by using their entire bodies. The makers of a small number of recent devices, however, are looking to take game control down another route, sticking with traditional hand-controlled keyboards and joysticks, but adding hardware that adds the user’s feet to the mix.

An example of the latter is 3DRudder. Created by created by a team of French designers, the device is a foot-controlled navigation and motion controller that works in conjunction with existing PC games. The controller can emulate keyboard keys or a joystick and is intended to be a companion device for virtual reality headsets like the Oculus Rift The 3DRudder is used while seated and users just rest their feet on it while playing a game. To move forward, the user tilts the device forward; to move to the right, the user tilts the device to the right, and so on. The pedal enables users to also move up or down.

The device supports a maximum user weight of 286 pounds. To use the controller, the user must have a computer featuring an AMD Phenom or Intel Core i3, I5 or i7 processor, 2 GB of RAM, a USB 2.0 port and an Internet connection. Backers can get a 3DRudder for $110 as part of an early bird special and the device will ship in May. Its makers are looking to raise $50,000 on Indiegogo.

The controller is similar in concept to the somewhat more primitive-looking, Kickstarter-funded Stinky the Gaming Footboard. But both devices seem targeted at only a niche segment of the gamer market. The lack of current support for the Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony game consoles only underscores that. The 3DRudder’s makers are targeting 3D professionals including designers as one core audience for its device, and it seems best-suited for that crowd–unless Facebook’s ultra-bullish prediction for virtual reality headsets comes true.