This project's funding goal was not reached on December 11, 2013.
About this project
UPDATE #6 - Sixense STEM Tracker Add-on Available
You can now add a STEM (Sixense tracking module) to your Reactive Grip dev kit for $39 each. With a STEM module installed in your Reactive Grip you can use it right out of the box with an existing STEM System or by purchasing a STEM Base station separately from Sixense in their online store. See update for more details.
UPDATE #5 - Stretch Goal for Wireless Communication and Attaching Reactive Grip to Your Project
We're announcing a stretch goal for wireless communication as well as demonstrating new ways to use the Reactive Grip controller. See all the details in our update.
As seen on
BBC - "I can really feel that ... my brain is definitely feeling like I've got some tension there" [Video]
Popular Science - "the idea behind the [Reactive Grip] controller is simple but borderline brilliant"
Mashable - "Reactive Grip Wants Your Video Game Experience to Get Physical" [Video]
DVICE - "... we’ve had some opportunities to try it out for ourselves, and it’s damn impressive."
theVerge - "... we tried a prototype unit ... and were immediately impressed by how realistic the sensation felt ... we could almost feel the weight shifting in our hand. Firing a virtual gun produced noticeable directional recoil."
VentureBeat - "The Reactive Grip gives you much sharper sensations than the aging “rumble” game controllers with haptics, or touch feedback, from companies such as Immersion. I was able to demo the device, and the grip really does give you quite a bit of force feedback."
Polygon - "Virtual reality device lets you feel the weight of in-game objects"
Gizmodo - "Grip Simulator Could Revolutionize the Feeling of Weapons in Games"
Road to VR - "As you stab into the material, the handle of the unit seems to push back against you, as though there really is some resistance at the end of the virtual sword. ... the system creates an impressively convincing sensation that could bring us one step closer to immersive virtual reality."
KUTV - " ... gives feedback to the gamer that's more than just a vibration."
GamesRadar - "The coolest motion controller tech you've ever seen."
Mashable - "Rumble feedback in games is cool but it's not very lifelike. Reactive Grip wants to fix that..." [Video]
Geeky Gadgets - "The Reactive Grip controller has been designed to add additional feedback and touch to virtual reality games"
Deseret News - "The effect is one that pulls and stretches the palm of the hand to mimic the bouncing suspension of a dune buggy, the kickback of a revolver, the swing of a ball and chain or the stretch of a slingshot."
What is Reactive Grip™ touch feedback?
Tactical Haptics aims to bring a revolutionary new touch feedback technology to virtual reality and video games that blows the doors off traditional "rumble" vibration feedback. Reactive Grip touch feedback works by mimicking the friction and shear forces that we feel in the real world when holding an object or touching a surface. This is accomplished by measuring the movements of the player’s hand and actuating small sliding plates in the grip of the controller to recreate the friction and shear forces you expect when holding an actual object such as a sword, slingshot, gun, or fishing rod. We call it Reactive Grip feedback because it reacts to your actions and motions in the virtual world.
The first Reactive Grip controller prototype was developed just prior to GDC 2013, where we provided demos to the public for the first time – in many cases to folks that had just tried the Oculus Rift for the first time. Players trying the controller immediately asked when this kind of feedback would be integrated into their favorite shooter, flight simulator, or RPG. Since then the controller has been shown at several other conferences and meetups. We’ve taken all the comments and input from people at these events to produce a smaller, more ergonomic controller that provides even more responsive feedback.
Reactive Grip could also be used in augmented reality to add realism when interacting with overlaid virtual content. For example, in the future, Reactive Grip feedback could be built into the handle of a wand that could be used with the castAR system.
Our latest controller is smaller and more ergonomic than the prototype we showed earlier this year at GDC 2013. The improved ergonomics allow for a variety of controller uses. A standard trigger, joystick and buttons allow for traditional game input. Alternately, the Reactive Grip can be used with a simple power grip to simulate holding a sword or center stick of an airplane. Either way you’ll be experiencing a whole new form of touch feedback!
We have a growing suite of game / interaction demos, including a slingshot, sword and shield, shooting gallery, medieval flail, stretching deformable object, dune buggy driving and fishing. Our demos have been designed to work with both standard displays as well as with the Oculus Rift Development Kit.
Our SDK is compatible with Unity and the Oculus Rift!
How does Reactive Grip™ touch feedback work?
Reactive Grip touch feedback can be used to convey motion and force information. It does this through the motion of sliding plates that are built into the handle of the device. Translational (straight/linear) motions and forces can be portrayed along the length of the handle by moving the plates in unison in the corresponding direction. Whereas moving the plates in opposite directions creates the feeling that the handle is torquing, twisting, or wrenching within the user’s grasp. In a gaming environment, these cues can be used to deliver strong sensations like the kick of a gun or the impact of striking an opponent with a sword. The controller can also be used for subtle experiences such as picking a lock, opening a door, or portraying the weight of an object shifting in the player’s hand. These types of feedback create an engaging experience that brings gaming interactions to life.
The Reactive Grip controller will be compatible with the excellent Sixense STEM tracking system. However, we'll also make it easy for you to use your preferred tracking method.
The below concept image shows how the Sixense STEM tracking module will be integrated into the Reactive Grip controller design, as well as examples of other possible tracking options. You could mount your castAR Magic Wand or attach similar tracking features to a Reactive Grip for use within the castAR system.
Concept image showing intended integration of the Sixense STEM tracking module.
Other possible tracking options for the Reactive Grip controller. We'll gladly supply the hole pattern for mounting your tracker to the controller.
Reactive Grip Features
- Features three responsive and independently driven sliding plates in the device handle for immersion in games and VR that goes well beyond "buzz"
- Compact, ambidextrous design for comfortable left or right hand use
(allows 2-player gaming with a 2-handed development kit)
- 8 traditional controller buttons, 1 analog thumbstick, 1 analog trigger
- Compatibility with the Sixense STEM tracking system
- Mounting points to connect your own tracking solution
- SDK support for Unity and C++ games and projects
Development Kit features and/or stretch goals we are considering
- Adding an inertial sensor chip to our controller’s circuit board
so you could do Wii-like things with our controller without requiring a separate tracker (i.e., we'd add an accelerometer chip to our circuit board)
- Adding basic webcam tracking support for our controller
so you won't need a separate tracker to do many of the things you'd want to do with our controller
- Adding wireless communication
(but we'd likely need to keep wired power for our dev kits to ensure the extended use that most developers would want without needing to recharge batteries. However, this would allow those who want to unplug our power cable and use their own battery pack to do so)
- Adding UDK support
- Adding Android support
- Possibly adding software integration with the castAR system (we're starting to talk with the folks at Technical Illusions to see if this is possible)
- Adding Dev Kit hardware add-ons or customizing the Dev Kit (more on this in a future update)
Please make a note on our comments page if you would like to see us offer any of the above. We would want to make sure there is enough support for the additional features, add-ons, or stretch goals we'd offer. Please also feel free to suggest other features, add-ons, or stretch goals you'd like to see.
Other rewards we are considering
- 1- and 2-handed Reactive Grip Development kits with a Tactical Haptics branded tracker base and STEM tracking module(s)
(for those that missed the Sixense STEM Kickstarter, but that want to use a STEM tracker or add a STEM & STEM base to your current hardware. This would make our controller a complete "turn-key" STEM/Reactive Grip haptic controller with STEM tracking system)
Please make a note on our comments page if you would like to see us offer a tracker base, STEM tracking modules, or other rewards. We have briefly discussed this option with Sixense and would secure pricing for this option if there was enough support from backers (and future backers). We'll want to make sure there is enough support for this additional reward level before pursuing this. Please also feel free to suggest other reward levels you'd like to see us offer.
Tactical Haptics is a completely boot-strapped company, with current support provided by the remainder of a US National Science Foundation I-Corps (Innovation Corps) grant. A successful Kickstarter project will allow the team to distribute the Reactive Grip hardware to developers of all kinds while validating the demand for better touch feedback in games.
History of Tactical Haptics Touch Feedback
The Reactive Grip touch feedback technology has evolved from several years of research from Professor Provancher's Haptics Lab at the University of Utah that has been referred to as "shear feedback" or "skin stretch feedback." The initial focus of this related research was on providing directional navigation information, e.g., for in-car navigation or guiding the blind, which it also does quite well.
This prior research was supported, in part, by the US National Science Foundation under Grants DGE-0654414, IIS-0746914, IIS-0904456, and IIP-1258890.
Why we need your help
Haptics (touch feedback) is really hard to explain through pictures, words, or even videos. You really need to feel and experience it to understand it and its value. Kickstarter will allow us to get our technology into the hands of developers, researchers, and avid enthusiasts so we can establish a community to bring the sense of touch to virtual interactions alongside the growing community of VR developers that has resulted from the advent of the Oculus Rift.
We also have several more improvements that remain to be implemented in the Reactive Grip, which will be implemented as we move towards final production of development kits. First of all, we will need to integrate the communication to the Sixense STEM tracking module, as soon as specifics are available from Sixense. We are also in the process of testing out new, more responsive, less expensive, and quieter actuators. Durability testing is currently ongoing on these actuators, and this change will also make the device more durable and responsive.
Get involved! Even if you don't get a developer kit
Do you want a deeper and more immersive experience from your games? There are backer levels to show your support for better touch feedback in games. Your support will send a message to game developers and hardware makers that the VR community and gamers want a more immersive touch feedback experience.
Why are our Development Kits wired controllers?
In short, we want to deliver the best possible gaming experience to consumers as quickly as possible!
The consumer version of the Reactive Grip game controllers are planned to be wireless, however, there are many factors that led us to offer our initial development kits as wired controllers. These factors include:
- A wired design will allow us to get our touch feedback technology into the hands of developers as quickly as possible. We also avoid difficulties and delays that often come with getting low latency wireless communication working reliably. And we avoid potential delays due to wireless certification.
A wired design ensures the best device performance.
1) We won't need to trade battery life, device weight, and device performance against each other. This will ensure the best possible haptic experience for users and will allow us to observe actual device use to ensure the best possible wireless device design for a consumer version.
2) We bypass potential wireless communication interference or latency that could affect the quality of haptic feedback.
The Reactive Grip controllers will be built by a hybrid manufacturing approach that will injection mold the internal components to achieve high durability and performance, while the shell of the controller will be 3D printed in order to keep tooling costs down. Early delivery prototypes may use other manufacturing processes to produce durable prototypes ahead of the full production.
Cost Breakdown/How Pledge Money Will Be Spent
Expected cost breakdown for our project, including cost breakdown for our hybrid manufacturing approach for the Reactive Grip controller. Backer contributions will be spread across the below costs as required to deliver the best product to backers.
Explanation of Rewards
Reactive Grip controllers will be delivered with an SDK for use with Unity and C++. Backers will have access to all our demo executables and source code for many of our Unity-based demos.
Get a Grip! T-Shirt
Risks and challenges
Hardware is hard. Completing the manufacturing process will require time and resources. Delivery dates are at the mercy of unforeseen manufacturing issues or slips in schedule from manufacturers. It is also possible that we could encounter issues sourcing some of our components, though unlikely since we have chosen standard components where many alternatives exist.
We also acknowledge that it will be necessary to coordinate with Sixense Entertainment, Inc. to integrate STEM tracking support. This is not anticipated to cause technical or schedule risk, but is somewhat out of our immediate control.
While there is possible risk at every step of this project we are confident that we have the right team to reach our quality goals and deadlines.
We’re looking forward to your support and feedback as together we make Reactive Grip the best it can be.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Will the Reactive Grip Development Kit controller work with my current PC or console (Wii, Playstation, and Xbox 360) games?
Unfortunately no, the Reactive Grip controller will not work directly with your existing PC and console games. Initially our controllers will be compatible with the PC. Our drivers will emulate the inputs of a standard PC game controller, but to enable the advanced touch feedback of the Reactive Grip additional changes to the game software must be made. This can be supported in a new game or as a modification to an existing open source game.
Initially, we will provide demos that provide Reactive Grip touch feedback when our controller is used in combination with the Sixense STEM tracking system (or Razer Hydra). We will also provide source code for many of the demos shown in the Kickstarter video for developers to create game prototypes from or as a starting point for game mods.
We encourage developers and enthusiasts to share their game prototypes for the community to experience and learn from. This is similar in spirit to the model for the Oculus Rift developer community. We’ll be bringing a developer forum online to facilitate this.
No, the Reactive Grip works without a tracker. Preset feedback such as the kick of a gun or the bite of a fish can be provided without tracking. Motion tracking allows the Reactive Grip to deliver feedback for dynamic physical interactions. The better the quality of this motion tracking, the more subtle and nuanced the feedback provided by the Reactive Grip. For this reason we a thrilled to be working with Sixense to include their high fidelity STEM tracking system.
If you have your own preferred tracking solution we provide mounting holes to attach any required hardware or markers.
Not at all, the Oculus Rift provides an amazing sense of immersion that can be complimented with Reactive Grip touch feedback but our controller can be used just as easily with standard visual displays or monitors.
We have learned from the past Kickstarter campaigns that shipping to locations outside the U.S. can have unforeseen issues, se we will bill separately for shipping to international backers at a date closer to the actual shipping date. We plan to use USPS and an inexpensive fulfillment house to ship the packages and will charge just for the actual cost to ship each package. This will ensure we don’t under or overcharge during our campaign. Backers will be responsible for any import duties, VAT, or other applicable taxes.
Shipping costs will be adjusted appropriately for the 1- and 2- hand development kits, which are estimated at 2 and 4 pound shipping weights, respectively. Below are estimates for various. All prices do not include import duties and VAT. If your country is not listed, please contact us and we will do our best to work with you to find a solution. We hope to be able to do much better than the amounts below. All shipping rates are subject to change but are currently estimated to be:
• Canada $30-40
• Mexico $40-50
South America $40-$50
• Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia
• England, Scotland, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Turkey, Bosnia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine,
Middle East $45-$55
• Abu Dhabi, Egypt, Israel
• China, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand
South Pacific $55-70
• Australia, New Zealand
South Africa $40-60
Why did the controller design change from 4 sliding contactor bars to 3 sliding contactor bars on the kickstarter Dev Kits?
The change from 4 sliding contactor bars to 3 sliding contactor bars came from user feedback from the earlier four-contactor prototypes. Overwhelmingly, users felt that the four- contactor controller grip was too large to comfortably grasp. Users with medium to small hands would only have good contact on three of the four bars.
By moving to a three-contactor design, the handle has a smaller and more comfortable cross-section for grasping that keeps the user naturally aligned (and thumb pointed towards the front of controller). This also creates a larger, more consistent contact against the palm and fingerpads for stronger touch feedback sensation (when desired).
Strong left/right torques can still be provided by moving the two front sliding contactor bars in opposition, while front/back torques (like gun kick back) are given by moving the front two sliding contactor bars up together and the back sliding contactor against the palm down. Other torque directions are blended between these two conditions.
Once users tried our new 3-contactor design they were hooked and didn’t want to go back (we gave demos with the device at the Silicon Valley VR meetup a few weeks back and you can see footage of Cymatic Bruce, Karl Krantz, Amir Ruben using the new 3-contactor design in our Kickstarter video).
- (35 days)