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.

Apparel Aquatics

Ripflip bridges fin-to-foot evolution in one piece of footwear

The Premise. For avid outdoorsy types and those who work in nature environments, the transition between land and water can be cumbersome. Very few products actually allow a person to transition between streamlined movement in a land environment to a water environment, and footwear choices are even more limited.

The Product. The Ripflip seeks to foil flipper floundering by providing a comfortable, functional shoe and flipper combination. It is essentially a neoprene shoe with some tread and a short flipper attached to it. It has a heel strap for easily putting it on or taking it off,, a midsole for comfort and a sole that provides traction on a variety of surfaces.

The Pitch. The video was obviously shot by a professional and has a really comprehensive view of the product. It’s filled with shots of the product, including close-ups of the tread (designed by a large tread-making company), and shots of the RipFlip in aspirational action that may tip off some of the product’s compromises. For example, the video shows people rock climbing, but how do they know where they’re climbing with three or so inches of flipper hitting the rock before their foot? And how does such a small fin really increase a swimmer’s propulsion?

The Perks. This product offers a sort of hybrid shoe that would definitely protect your feet in a variety of environments and might help you swim around a bit. The tread on the shoe would help the user walk in water, for sure.  In terms of the campaign, you need to donate $90 before you get a prototype of the product.

The Potential. This product seems cool at first, but it leaves a lot of questions unanswered. How well can you really walk in these? Even the models seem to be moving their feet unnaturally.  If you wear these outside, but not in the water, what happens when your feet sweat? How would this product function from cold water to cold air? The Rip Flip may leave many unanswered questions, but would be good fit for scenarios such as beach lifeguarding or camping near a lake.