New ‘Haptic Pivot’ Controller From Microsoft Simulates Gravity and Momentum

Even though it might seem that only Facebook remains invested in virtual reality, this new project from Microsoft once again shows the amazing potential of VR. 

Check out the Haptic Pivot, a new VR controller created by Microsoft Research that’s so advanced, it can actually simulate the sensation of gravity and momentum. 

Worn on the wrist, it has a haptic handle that can actually give you a realistic feeling when manipulating objects in virtual reality. 

In the demo, Microsoft Research showed how the handle and pivot act when a user picks up an apple and then tosses it back and forth between their hands. 

“Using these prototypes, an individual can feel the skin of a virtual apple, squeeze the virtual fruit, and move it around in her hand” say the researchers. 

Even more impressive is the fact that the controller can also offer the sensation of gravity and momentum, making virtual objects feel like they are governed by Newton’s laws – so basically, like real objects in motion. 

“By grounding PIVOT to the wrist, we’re able to render the momentum and drag of thrown and caught objects, which are governed by Newton’s laws, including simulating speeds of objects upon reaching the hand: The robotized haptic handle deploys when needed, approaching and finally reaching the hand, creating the feeling of first contact—going from a bare hand to one holding an object—thus mimicking our natural interaction with physical objects in a way that traditional handheld controllers can’t,” Microsoft explains. 

Of course, this is just research at the moment, not an actual controller about to hit the shelves, but it shows just how far VR and robotics have come in recent times. 

You can read more about the Haptic Pivot and the research behind it here.

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