Ever wanted to wield the power of a Jedi inside VR? This new system from Virginia Tech researchers lets you do just that.
Force Push is a new object manipulation system for VR being worked on at the institution’s College of Engineering. It uses hand-tracking (namely a Leap Motion sensor fitted to the front of the Oculus Rift) to allow users to push, pull and rotate virtual objects from a distance, just like a Skywalker would. Run Yu, Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Computer Science, and Professor Doug Bowman have been working on it for some time, as can be seen in the video below. The pair’s research was recently published in a new report.
As the footage shows, objects are moved simply by gesturing in the way you want them to go. Motion towards yourself to bring an item closer towards you, flick your hand up to raise it off of the ground and, of course, push your hand outwards to have it shoot off into the distance. You can even raise your index finger and make a rotating motion to turn the object around.
It’s a pretty cool system, though we’d like to see it working without the repeated gestures. Hand-tracking itself is some ways out from full implementation inside VR headsets, but laying groundwork such as this will help make it a more natural fit if and when it does get here.
“There is still much to learn about object translation via gesture, such as how to find the most effective gesture-to-force mapping in this one case (mapping functions, parameters, gesture features, etc.),” the pair wrote in their report. “We plan to continue searching for improved transfer functions from the gesture features to the physics simulation. Further evaluation of Force Push will focus on more ecologically valid scenarios involving full 3D manipulation.”
Now if only we could use this is an actual Star Wars VR game?