Microsoft has embarked on several R&D forays in an effort to improve how users of virtual reality control their content. Now, Microsoft Research has showcased a prototype for a VR controller that gives the user force-feedback. This makes it particularly useful for grasping small object with the index finger and thumb.
In its details, Microsoft Research says controlling VR is currently an expensive proposition. Solutions are bulky and not ready for mass use due to the power requirements they need.
CapstanCrunch allows the problem to be fixed by a “capstan brake and clutched spring”. With this mechanism that allows a smaller motor to be overpowered through amplification 40 times more. This gives the ability to resist applied forces by users and reduce the energy that was previously possible.
Specifically designed for the thumb and index player, CapstanCrunch creates a simulation of holding a real-world object in the virtual space. Furthermore, the level of force is automatically adjusted, allowing the simulation of softer objects.
Microsoft says it is possible to use CapstanCrunch to deliver nuanced haptic control. The company says it would allow a user to connect to pieces of LEGO and cut material with a virtual scissors. If this comes to fruition it would move VR controls beyond anything that is currently possible.
It is worth noting Microsoft has been working on revolutionizing VR controls for some time. Earlier this year, the company introduced its TORC control system.
TORC (Touch Rigid Controller) is a rigid pad that has no moving parts. Instead, an array of sensors allows users to use it with visual feedback, voice coil actuators, and dexterity.
“The TORC project team enabled natural haptic interactions, such as squeezing a virtual silicone ball, by translating multisensory integration theories to the world of hardware prototypes. TORC working fundamentals rely on the fact that humans are very susceptible to dynamic visuotactile stimulation.