Putting us inside a virtual reality world is a good start, but many companies who have invested in VR ignored the fact that we need to interact with the surroundings too. As we all know that usage of traditional physical controllers in virtual reality environment is quite complicated and usage of keyboards, especially in the same environment, is barely possible at all even for experienced typists. And it wouldn’t be wrong to say that this has been ignored by many despite the fact that physical keyboards are beneficial even in VR for various applications, including gaming and productivity. However, the scenario might change soon as Logitech and HTC have announced that they are teaming up to enable usage of real keyboards with tactile feedback in virtual worlds.
Logitech is launching an accessory kit that lets you see its keyboard in VR. It’s called the Bridge developers kit and it works with the HTC Vive. The kit consists of a Logitech G gaming keyboard, a Vive Tracker that attaches to the upper-left corner of the keyboard, and a software development kit (SDK) for developers. Explaining about the kit, Logitech said, ” We believe that a physical keyboard should be present, as it delivers essential tactile feedback and a universal experience that people value. Whether you are using a keyboard for gaming, communication or productivity, it is an effective and efficient tool. Besides letters, numbers and symbols, keyboards provide a range of modifier keys for more complex actions, all learned, perhaps painfully, and stored in your memory over years of use.”
Logitech and HTC have not yet precisely explained that how their technology works but based on the press images they’ve sent out, the Vive Tracker senses positioning of hands above the keyboard, whereas software renders the keyboard and recreates movements of hands in virtual worlds. Logitech claims that such approach can help create virtual context-aware keyboards for both gaming and non-gaming applications. Logitech has already put together the basic building blocks of the code so that the keyboard and your hands will show up in any SteamVR-compatible app. Developers can now use what Logitech has put together, and adapt and expand it for their own apps and games.
Even though it will be a revolutionary addition to the current VR space, there are few downsides to it also. To start with, it only works with Logitech’s G gaming keyboard and the Vive. The other is the limited availability. Logitech is accepting applications from developers up through November 16 and will dish out the first 50 units for free. After that, it costs $150 for the keyboard and SDK—the tracker is an additional $99, and of course, there is the cost of the Vive headset ($599). Another problem which we might face is low latency which means the software is going to recreate movements of hands with a delay, possibly after the system registers actuation of a key.
But still, we would really like to wait and see the developers adopting this new tech and expanding it further. Meanwhile, you share your views about this recent advancement and if any developers would like to apply for the kit, they can do it here until 16th November.