Learn about various innovative VR Controllers and Accessories available to enjoy an immersive Virtual Reality Experience:
Complete immersion in virtual reality environments is possible when all body senses and movements are involved. The sense of taste and smell may be a way too far for VR systems currently, but the sense of touch is not, same as motion tracking.
This tutorial will cover VR accessories including virtual reality cameras, suits, VR controllers for PC and other devices, etc. It is suitable for those looking for VR headsets with controllers.
Most of VR controllers for PC and other devices, and VR sensors, not only allow for simulation of electrical nerves and motion through haptics but also let the user control VR environments as they like.
What You Will Learn:
- VR Accessories
- #1) Virtual Reality Cameras
- #2) VR Controllers
- #3) Wireless Trackers And Adaptors
- #4) Virtual Reality Suits
- #5) Virtual Reality Haptic Gloves
- #6) Virtual Reality Chairs
- #7) VR Treadmills
- #8) Haptic VR Masks And Other Devices
- #9) Miscellaneous VR Accessories
These are devices and accessories that are needed alongside VR headsets with controllers to enjoy virtual reality content, although some accessories are those used to make VR content.
These accessories can largely be grouped into those used to produce virtual reality content such as camera rigs, and those used to explore VR content including trackers and hand controllers for PC and other devices.
Otherwise, in the list of top accessories, we have virtual reality cameras, controllers, full-body and half-body suits and vests, gloves, chairs, training hardware such as virtual reality treadmills, facial masks, guns, shoes, base stations, wireless transmitters, other sensor-based devices, and even protector bags.
#1) Virtual Reality Cameras
Virtual reality cameras for shooting 3D and VR content:
The below image is of a VR camera used for shooting VR videos and images.
Virtual reality cameras can either be used to shoot or make videos and 3D images. The content from cameras and other virtually generated content can be transferred to Unity, Unreal or CryEngine and other similar platforms for customization and editing. You can also create imaginary content with these platforms.
A virtual reality camera is one of the best accessories to have if you are a VR content creator. It works by filming in all 360 or 180 degrees or in all directions to tell a multi-directional story. The same case applies when capturing 3D and VR images. A single-camera or a rig, made of many virtual reality cameras, can be used in capturing.
Multiple cameras can deliver different feeds, which are then combined by software–either in the same rig or on a computer.
This camera, which allows the taking of images and videos within a given sphere around it, gives the images and videos captured a true depth and perspective regardless of the viewing angle. This can be achieved by creating both horizontal and vertical parallax.
a) Light-based VR camera and camera rigs
Light-based camera rigs, which contain cameras around the rig’s spherical surface, collect light data intersecting the camera surfaces and then calculate the image’s spherical light field volume which equals the physical dimension of the camera.
Light field capture virtual reality cameras such as the Lytro Immerge produce six degrees of motion freedom within the camera volume. This kind of camera will add positionally tracked volume to the VR scene besides creating horizontal and vertical parallax. This produces a true depth regardless of the viewing angle.
b) Volumetric VR cameras and rigs
Volumetric cameras take the entire volume of an object and recreate 3D images of these objects that can also be viewed from all sides.
c) Photogrammetry VR cameras, rigs, and scanners
The photogrammetry method generates 3D images and videos by taking photos from at least two different locations and angles (for instance, by different cameras) and then calculating the 3-dimensional coordinates of the points of interest in the object. Scanning of objects uses the same idea. The photogrammetry method generates images with gaps that need to be edited via software to clean up the spots.
- Insta360 One X. 5.7K, GoPro Max, Kandao QooCam 8K, Insta360 Evo, Insta360 One, HumanEyes Vuze XR, and GoPro Fusion are some examples of best 360 and VR shooting cameras in the market today.
Cameras for positional and motion tracking in VR:
The below image is of a PlayStation VR headset and its position and motion tracking camera.
VR cameras can also be made specifically to be used for positional and motion tracking. The camera tracking technology is diverse–cameras may be attached to the headset, fixed in a room for room VR experiences, or worn as optical markers by the VR user.
PlayStation VR headset is one of the VR headsets with controllers that use camera-based positional tracking. The cameras, in such a system, work by capturing images and sending signals that allow for adjusting of the image seen by the wearer in virtual reality.
VR tracking cameras are made to ensure a very high accuracy of tracking where the camera must ensure matching and should show the connection of the real and the VR world.
#2) VR Controllers
The below image shows Valve’s virtual reality hand controllers.
VR controllers are a wide category of the top virtual reality controllers that allow users to manipulate their environments as they wish. This can be done using hand, foot, fingers, or other body parts.
a) Hand VR controllers
These controllers, as the name suggests, are used in and controlled by hand and mainly use button inputs (gamepads). It may have motion tracking, gesture interfaces, and position tracking technology to track both hands and fingers.
Here is a video on hand VR controllers:
They sense movements of hands and fingers and transform them into electric impulses that are inputted into the virtual reality environments. Those end up being the movements of hands or fingers in VR.
Those VR controllers with haptics transmit electrical impulses from the VR system to the hands and fingers, allowing the user’s hands and fingers to feel the VR environments as though the person was physically present in those simulated environments.
Examples in this category include Oculus Touch, Samsung Rink, SteelSeries Stratus XL, and HTC Vive Controllers.
b) Foot VR controllers
The below image example is of 3D Rudder foot VR controller:
Feet-based VR controllers may translate feet and toe movements like described above for hand controllers using motion and position tracking. Some also incorporate haptic feedback.
Examples include DRudder that retails for $179, and SprintR VR, which features a stationary base and a moving/rotating top plate. It can be used to control the VR environment by resting your feet on it and moving around the feet. It also has haptic feedback.
c) Other non-body controllers
VR System, including a Leap Motion Box, in use:
The Leap Motion is a special kind of a small portable rectangular box placed in the same room or space where the user is using the VR headset with controllers, and it connects to the computer via USB cable. It allows you to control the computer via a hand wave.
With it, you can bring in your hands in VR environments, track the hands and fingers in real-time in VR, while rendering smoother hand controls. It can be used for all VR activities.
The NOLO motion and position tracking kit for PC and mobile devices manage a full room-scale VR experience.
#3) Wireless Trackers And Adaptors
VR Wireless adaptor for HTC Cosmos is displayed in the image below:
a) VR Adaptors
Wireless-capable VR headsets with controllers like Vive, VIVE Pro Series, VIVE Pro Eye Series, and VIVE Cosmos Series now have wireless adapters to use with, which remove the need for cables from the equation when enjoying room-scale virtual reality experiences.
Some top wireless adapters include TPcast wireless adapter, Oculus Sensor, Thrustmaster T-Flight Hotas, PlayStation Gold Wireless Headset, PlayStation Aim, and The Skywin PSVR, among others.
b) VR Trackers
VR trackers are a form of adapters and allow the tracking of any real-world object inside of virtual reality spaces or environments. For instance, you can bring in a pair of gloves to play guitar or climb a rock or do other things in VR. Basically, they apply sensor technology where each sensor can find the others.
With these VR trackers, you can also add in other top VR accessories that allow for better experiences when playing games.
c) VR Base Stations
HTC Vive Base Station:
These base stations track the location of Vive or Vive Pro headset and controllers. They work by flooding the room with non-visible light, and the receptors of the tracked devices intercept this light and figure out where the devices are in relation to the base station.
They are placed and/or used differently for different VR headsets and systems. In HTC Vive Pro, they are the small rectangular boxes with tripod threading for setting up to become more mobile. They sync wirelessly.
In Steam VR systems, two of these stations are placed in the opposite corners of a 15 by 15 feet room.
#4) Virtual Reality Suits
A virtual reality suit also allows for full-body tracking in virtual reality because sensors can transmit the position and posture of the entire body in VR.
Tactsuit from bHaptic, TeslaSuit, and Hardlight Suit/NullSpace VR are a few examples of VR suits that use sensors and have haptics to help immerse either the entire body, lower body, upper body, or other parts of the body in VR experiences.
This suit lets you experience touch sensations, physical exertions, weight, roughness or smoothness of an object in VR, heat and cold sensations, and other haptics in different parts of the body, from a first-person level as though you were actually and in real life, doing those things you are doing in VR.
- TeslaSuit also captures motion to help improve tracking over time. It also contains sensor-based biometrics to track the user’s emotional levels. Ideally, the suit will receive inputs from user motion and from biometric data to help adjust the VR system as required as per the body position and motion, while the output is delivered to the body through haptic feedback and climate control.
Its applications include virtual reality training, rehabilitation, enterprise, climate control, and athletics. In rehabilitation, it can be used for electrical muscle stimulation, nerve stimulation, galvanic skin response, motion capture, and electrocardiogram.
Here is a video on Electrical muscle simulation:
- Electrical muscle stimulation technology attempts to cause the contracting of the muscle using an external electrical charge or pulse generated from the EMS machine. The suits are also used for climate control where the suit enables the transfer of changes in temperature and other climate aspects into the VR world, and the suit will also simulate temperature sensations to transmit to the body. Motion control is used for gesture control and position tracking.
- VR Vests also use the same theory. The likes of Woojer Haptic VR Vest incorporate haptics feedback that uses sound to imitate gaming scenarios. This one has eight haptic zones where you can feel things and experience them in VR. The simple plug-and-play device connects via Bluetooth or a 3.5mm audio jack. Apart from the electronics, these vests are made of high-end breathable fabrics.
#5) Virtual Reality Haptic Gloves
The first application of virtual reality gloves is to let you see your hands inside the VR environments so you can touch and control virtual objects in games, etc. With hand and multi-angle finger tracking technology, you can see those hands in real-time inside of the VR system.
That way, for instance, you can feel the weight of objects when lifting weights such as in weight-lifting applications. Therefore, these are the best virtual reality controllers for quick VR immersion.
Characteristics of VR Gloves:
- Haptic gloves such as those from Oculus contain internal “tendons” that simulate a sense of touch by tensing and relaxing the body. With such gloves, you can feel haptics all over the hands; feel the shape, size, and stiffness of objects (the glove generates a force to mimic the object’s shape, size, and stiffness); and experience weight force of objects.
- The exoskeletons have sensors and finger-movement measurement devices and transmit tactile information to and from the body by delivering a pulling cable force on fingers (electromagnetically, via DC motor, or via pneumatic force). When an avatar touches a virtual object inside VR, for instance, an electric signal is transmitted to the gloves and converted to a haptic movement that simulates the sense of touch. VR gloves can also relay feedback from hands, and alongside precision hand-tracking tech, deliver an extra immersive experience in VR.
- These gloves can connect to headsets and other VR devices or gadgets wirelessly, via Bluetooth, or cables. The gloves are made of fabrics with hardware and software that use the PhysX engine, pre-built interactions library, and custom scripting. The hardware may comprise sensors, actuators, a power source, and a wireless transmission. The gloves work by inflating and deflating tiny blisters of air (in the inflatable air pockets on the surface of the gloves) across the hand surface.
#6) Virtual Reality Chairs
The below image example is of Yaw VR Chair:
In traditional rotational tracking VR, the user has the headset on and can move their head sideways, top and down, but the body is still seated, unable to turn sideways as the user browses VR content. The VR chair allows the user to turn the entire body as they turn the head and change the line of sight of VR environments on their VR controllers for PC or other systems.
These chairs use a footplate attached to a motor system and the user presses on the plate to turn. Some chairs, for instance, those used in racing, have footplates to place the gas and brake pedals, stands to hold the steering wheel, and e-brake handle.
This not only provides the user with freedom of movement in a seated position, but also connects them with in-game movements such as when driving a virtual car, doing simulated gaming flight and driving postures, space flights, and aerial experiences.
It also prevents nausea because in VR nausea occurs when the eye transmits incorrect body balance signal when the user turns the head to explore the surrounding 360 degrees VR world (that is not visible within the direct line of user’s sight or peripheral vision) without consequently adjusting their line of sight regarding the change in direction.
The VR chair allows adjusting of that line of sight to a more appropriate one.
Here is a video on Virtuix OMNI VR Chair video:
#7) VR Treadmills
The below image is of Virtuix Omni:
Virtual reality treadmills are used for training and also for gaming or 360 degrees VR navigations since they allow the trainee or user to walk/run/jump/fly in every direction or 360 degrees in VR, but when the user is physically restricted to the equipment.
The VR treadmills are made of a plastic construction on which users strap themselves using a waist harness and then wear the unique shoe to reduce friction. The treadmill also has sensors to track the user position, stride length, and speed of movement/running/walking. These are relayed into the game environments and converted into game movements.
Modern VR treadmills are also top controllers because they allow you to run at full speed, sit, duck, twist, or jump in the Virtual World with no restrictions.
If you want to buy a VR treadmill, the top choices in the market are Birdly, Virtuix Omni, Cyberith virtualizer, Katwalk, and Infinadeck.
#8) Haptic VR Masks And Other Devices
Let us see Haptic virtual reality masks and other devices for smell and tastes in VR.
a) Virtual reality masks
VR masks such as FeelReal Multisensory mask increase immersion by creating experiences such as simulating hundreds of smells through scents and aromas, vibrations, and other tactile sensations such as rain feeling on cheeks and feeling wind breezes, warmth sense, and others. Objects in VR can now be smelled when a corresponding scent is released by the mask.
With these, you can smell in virtual reality thanks to the integrated olfactory technology that uses a scent generator and replaceable aroma cartridge. Such allow selecting what scents you want to prioritize.
OhRoma from CamSoda is also a form of a gas mask containing fragrance canisters that simulate smell and scents in VR.
b) Virtual reality glass
The Vocktail VR glass, which was being developed by researchers at the National University of Singapore, tricks the human sense that the person is drinking salty, sour, or sweet drinks in VR. The glass has electrodes placed around the rim to simulate the tongue that tastes the liquid contained in the glass. It also completes the experience by using scents to fine-tune the flavors.
#9) Miscellaneous VR Accessories
a) VR Guns
A virtual reality gun is a form of VR controller, except that it is for specific shooting applications in VR. These can be used inside of shooter games in VR for fun or military or other kinds of training, including the likes of Halo, Call of Duty, and John Wick.
These guns are made to be tracked by the headset via VR trackers attached to the gun or via integrated headset VR trackers. Some contain haptic feedback to the user to imitate or simulate the sound, movement or drag of firing of a gun, and different weapons being fired.
For instance, to produce the haptic feedback, the VR gun may have actuators that will vary the physical configuration of the device such as opening and closing of an attached fan.
Otherwise, the rest of the parts may include micro-controller circuits, gears, and pinions, handles, mechanical moving parts such as motors, and 3-D printed arms and other parts.
Others contain single, burst, and auto firing modes, and modes for railguns and other weapons found in first-person shooters.
Here is a video on Virtual Reality Gun:
b) VR Shoes
Without VR treadmills, virtual reality shoes allow you to walk through a virtual room or open space.
This problem of walking in VR is clear because while the virtual worlds are endless scenes, the room in which a user is located is limited in space. Full immersion requires support for endless walking, running, flying, jogging, jumping, etc in VR.
The shoes generate haptic feedback according to content to make the user feel surface characteristics of what they are stepping on in VR, for example, smoothness. Some have directional tracking inside the shoes to allow you to turn sideways when walking in VR, besides position and motion tracking tech inside them.
Not only do the shoes have tactile devices to give haptic feedback, but they also have sensors to transmit foot movement to VR environments and adjust the user’s position in the VR system.
c) VR Covers
VR covers are the cloth: cotton and foam covers that are sewn to the headset’s internal lining surfaces. Cotton linings and covers are used because they are comfortable and a perfect solution to sweat absorption.
Some headsets still use foam covers for easy cleaning, leather coverings, or foams for easier cleaning, though produce a lot of sweating, thin coverings for improved field of view, and pressure absorption. Most of these are disposable when being used with headsets. Others are integrated into the headsets.
Other examples are the VR Ninja Mask which synchs with controllers for PC and other devices — Gear VR, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Cardboard headsets, and Playstation VR.
d) Protector Bags
Protector bags are a category of accessories that allows you to safeguard and transport your VR headsets with controllers and other devices. They may be made of leather, plastic, or clothing.
This tutorial looked at the different top-listed VR accessories common in the market today. We saw that the purpose of the best virtual reality accessories is to increase immersion inside the VR environments.
Most use this through a two-way feedback process where the information is collected from the body parts about the motion and position and is employed in adjusting the VR environments when browsing the content. Haptics is used in delivering sensation feedback from VR environments to the user’s body to have them feel like they are actually present in the VR environments they are exploring.
The other category in this tutorial is the top VR accessories for ordinary use, such as bags for carrying VR headsets with controllers and other accessories and masks used to absorb dust and sweat when worn together with VR headsets.
Further reading =>> Best Gaming Headphones
No doubt the best virtual reality accessories are capitalizing in VR gaming, but we have seen them in industrial applications such as training and medicine.