There’s a growing number of applications for Virtual Reality Headsets. From Architecture and Engineering to Simulation and Training, the breadth of content is growing rapidly. While the business applications are choosing higher end solutions from dedicated VR companies such as HTC and Oculus, the majority of the consumer market is dominated by low-end devices used in conjunction with Smartphones.
As I pointed out in the last article, VR Goggle offerings from Samsung and Google lead the field in price, performance and functionality. Other makers are quickly jumping in to offer alternatives with even better price/performance and expanded functionality. The one aspect that many of these providers have ignored is an area that I find is key to the overall adoption of virtual reality, and that is human interface or controllers.
Having used very early versions of VR, I’m well aware of the conundrum that faces developers. It’s difficult to create software that uses VR unless you have proper control, and it’s difficult to create proper control unless you know with what users are interacting. It’s a classic chicken and egg that has yet to be solved by the latest generation of devices.
What sort of control am I referring to? The kind of control that allows you to move both hands freely and independently around a virtual space for grasping and interacting. This is the only kind of control that makes sense when you’re dealing with virtual settings. Now for things like watching movies or other 3Dless content, it doesn’t matter as much, but when the application calls for free interaction, the options are very limited.
With that issue in mind, I went looking for what sort of controllers are available to purchasers of low-end VR goggles. I was dismayed to find that the situation has not improved much from what I’ve dubbed VR2. While the higher-end Oculus Rift is mated with the praiseworthy Oculus Touch, both it’s price-point and functionality are not suited to this category of smartphone-based devices.
On the other hand, you have traditional controllers from companies like MOGA, Gamesir and Mad Catz that are basically abxy Bluetooth gaming controllers targeted at VR users. They might be adequate in the hands of the experienced gamer, but certainly don’t recreate the experience of having free hands moving about a virtual space. The aforementioned Oculus Touch is touted to solve exactly that problem, but at $100, it costs more than most smartphone-based VR setups.
After a bit of research I came across a couple of well-praised single-hand devices that I believe are more suited to the Virtual Reality Experience. While they still employ the standard abxy type configuration, they give you the free handedness and possibly dual-hand control that you’ll want to have in a virtual space.
A good device should be light, able to fit in one hand and have access to both movement and grasping functions. It should also be wireless, because you don’t want to have immersion-breaking interference from something like a cord.
Here’s a look at those two controllers.
VR Remote Controller Gamepad
- Wireless Bluetooth
- Works with Android/iOS/Windows
- Use as remote, mouse, audio and VR controller
- High Precision Rocker
- Arc Shape Design
- Slip Free
- 360 Degree movement
- ARM CPU
- Requires 2-AAA Batteries
The VR Remote Controller Gamepad is one of the most affordable and capable of the single-hand VR Remote devices. It’s an essential product to augment your Android or iOS based VR headset and software.
Some customer reviews
This worked GREAT! First thing I used it for was my VR games. I put in the 2 “AAA” batteries and turned my blue tooth on my phone and then connected it . Once connected I was able to play all my VR games.
This VR Remote Controller Gamepad Bluetooth Control is amazing, If you’re a VR Gamer is perfect for you.
I am really happy with my new VR remote controller because now I can play more games since some games require the remote to play. The remote fits nicely in my hand and is comfortable to use. The back of the remote has textured lines that add to the grip which is also nice. The button easily moves in a circle motion using your thumb. The remote works and looks as described.
Magicsee R1 Bluetooth 4.0 Wireless Gamepad
- Bluetooth 4.0,Wireless Control More than 10 meters
- Support variety of modes, music, games, mouse, self-timer
- Low power consumption, Long standby
- Automatic identify Android and iOS system, no need to switch manually.
- USB port: mini USB Port for charging lithium battery
- LED Light :Charger power 5v/1A
- Blue light on when Bluetooth paired and mode switched.
The Magicsee R1 is a recent entry that hits many of the necessary points for the demands of a single-handed VR controller.
Some customer reviews
Quite happy with my choice in a Bluetooth gamepad for my iPhone (iOS). Price is fantastic. I like that it is palmsized and works equally well in either hand.
Works perfectly straight out of the box!
After finally getting the ‘game-mode’ to work I am very happy with this product!