Input Virtual Reality

The PowerClaw brings back Nintendo cool, snaps at more immersive VR

While the leaps made with the virtual reality experiences provided by the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are impressive, true virtual reality won’t be accomplished without the ability to feel what’s in these worlds. For this, a lot of work will need to be done, but luckily the first tentative steps are being taken now with the help of crowdfunding campaigns.

One of these campaigns is currently going on now and is called the PowerClaw, a device that promises to add a tactile experience to the currently flat VR out now. Strapping it on lets users feel everything from the heat to cold to textures such as roughness, topping it all off with vibrations fro that extra sense of touch. The PowerClaw does all this through actuators located on the fingertips that simulate exactly what the skin is feeling.

And while video games are the obvious use for this device, the team behind it hopes its tech will be used for applications as varied as long distance learning and the manipulation of objects, which is why its offering a free SDK for developers to run wild with. Each PowerClaw starts at $445 and is expected to ship in February 2017. Its flexible Indiegogo campaign is looking for $55,000 by September 2016 to see success.

The PowerClaw is intriguing but doesn’t do nearly enough when compared to another pretty similar product in the Gloveone. The latter packs in more haptic sensors, and while it doesn’t get across sensations like heat and cold, does get across a wider variety of more nuanced experiences like rain. What the PowerClaw needs to do is iterate on what the Gloveone has done by incorporating its advances — not go in a different direction.

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