Haptic Links for VR show Microsoft get real with HTC VIVE

Microsoft has a new VR accessory that makes the virtual feel more real. Three different versions of this "Haptic Links" setup allow two VR controllers effectively turn into one. They do this by restricting the movement of said controllers in any of several specific use-case scenarios.

If the game requires the user to loose some arrows with a big bow, Haptic Links will hold the two controllers on a hinge. Pulling the arrows back, then, feels more like there's an actual bow in hand, complete with limited movement. The same is true of a full-length in-game rifle, connecting the two controllers in a completely rigid way.

Above you'll see a video demonstrating what this accessory is all about. Several different iterations of the accessory are included in the video, one each of: Chain, Layer-Hinge, and Ratchet-Hinge. "When attached, Haptic Links can dynamically alter the forces perceived between the user's hands to support the haptic rendering of a variety of two-handed objects and interactions. They can rigidly lock controllers in an arbitrary configuration, constrain specific degrees of freedom or directions of motion, and dynamically set stiffness along a continuous range."

This project comes from the Microsoft Research AI group, a research group usually aimed at "game-changing advances in artificial intelligence." Users interested in joining the team can have a peek at the Microsoft research AI page and jump in head first. Especially if you're all about that next-gen computers taking over the world business, by all means, go for it.

HTC VIVE has motion tracking controllers that are so accurate, someone could toss one at someone with the headset on, and they'd catch it. I've thrown the controllers up and caught them, seeing them only in VR. As such, Microsoft's demo video here makes a whole lot of sense. More than using a Windows Mixed Reality headset, anyway.