Microsoft’s oxymoronic controller could be the most immersive VR peripheral yet

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Microsoft has revealed a new level of haptic feedback that can be built into a rigid controller which makes it feel like you’re squeezing a stress ball between your thumb and forefinger. Yes, the TORC device is solid, but tricks your brain into thinking it’s squishy and in doing so Microsoft is suggesting that “oxymorons of haptics might be the new normal.”

Researchers Mike Sinclair, Eyal Ofek, Mar Gonzalez-Franco, and Christian Holz from Microsoft Research Redmond, along with KAIST intern, Jeajon Lee, have created this bizarre new form of haptic controller that allows you to interact more fully with a virtual world. Its sensor design can be built into any number of different devices, from traditional game pads and VR controllers, to the stylus you might use with a graphics tablet.

The current device fits in the palm of your hand – the prototype looks a little larger as it’s got a Vive Tracker strapped to the top for the VR helps – and despite having no moving parts can deliver “rich haptic feedback that allows high level of dexterity and compliance perception when manipulating virtual objects.” That’s research paper speak for “makes it feel like you’re actually fiddling with the things you’re holding in a virtual world.”

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