Force-Feedback Controller Aero-Plane Provides a Haptic Vision of VR’s Future

The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) has been experimenting with various forms of force-feedback for virtual reality (VR) applications, last year unveiling the Wind-Blaster peripheral, a device focused on simulating force impacts. Recently the institute unveiled its latest development, the Aero-Plane, designed for weight and mass simulation.

While the Wind-Blaster strapped two fans to a users arm, for forward and backwards blasts of air, Aero-Plane takes these fans and attaches them to a controller device providing a continual airflow stream. This is to help create the illusion of weight in a virtual object as well as shifting mass.

Traditional haptic devices like the current crop of motion controllers for Oculus Rift and HTC Vive have a basic rumble feature, ensuring players feel more of a connection to the experience there playing. Aero-Plane takes that a step further, so when you pick up an item it’ll seem heavy, or when carrying an unstable load the weight may move around which would have to be compensated for.

In the KAIST demonstration video, the team use a ball rolling around on a 2D plane, which the user can then accurately roll around. They explain that Aero-plane is: “a force-feedback handheld controller based on two miniature jet-propellers that can render shifting weights of up to 14 N within 0.3 seconds.”

There are plenty of other applications for a force-feedback device such as this, with a good example being the gun range. Weapons will have different handling characteristics such as size, weight and recoil travel. A device like Aero-Plane could simulate some if not all of these effects.

Obviously, at this stage, Aero-Plane is still very much a prototype, quite bulky and with plenty of cables running of it.

If you’re interested in force-feedback technology you can buy now, then there’s always Dexta Robotics’ rather impressive looking Dexmo Enterprise Edition force feedback glove which went on sale in June. Also on the glove front is the Manus Prime Haptic, the company’s flagship enterprise product which retails for €5000 EUR. VRFocus will continue its coverage of the latest haptic devices, reporting back with any further announcements.

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