The issue of getting inputs into VR is one that’s going to stuck with us for a while. No one has yet figured out a truly native user interface for the VR era. Sure, we can do video game and sim stuff pretty well, but what about productivity in VR? It might seem like a weird idea, but VR actually provides many neat advantages for productivity.
One of my favourite VR apps is in fact Virtual Desktop, which puts you in one of number of workspaces. You can then summon multiple virtual desktops and use your non-VR applications in a VR environment. I find it helps me concentrate and it’s way better to be sitting on a beach than in my dingy old place.
One key issue is using my mouse and keyboard. Fishing for my mouse with an Oculus strapped to my face. The only thing that makes it at all practical is the fact that I don’t actually have to look at my keyboard to type. You know, being someone who writes for a living. Most people don’t though, so they’ll be happy to know that LG is working hard on the problem.
Thanks to a software development kit known as LG Bridge it may soon be possible to “port” your keyboard into the VR environment. How? Well it cleverly combines two pieces of existing technology. One of these is the HTC tracking disc. The other is a Logitech G gaming keyboard.
Since Logitech knowns the exact dimensions of the keyboard, simply knowing where the disc is then makes it possible for them to project an exact 1-to-1 model of the keyboard in your virtual application. Which means the VR keyboard you see and the real one on your desk essentially become the same thing. Very useful when you want to turn your office into a true VR space.
You can see the details of the announcement in this HTC video:
Unfortunately this is not exactly a cheap solution. Just the SDK by itself will set you back a cool $150 and that’s not including the disc or the Vive headset. The technology itself though is pretty interesting and hopefully they’ll eventually simply bring out a keyboard that has all the needed hardware inside.
It also brings up another novel idea. Think of other real-world objects that can be tagged with a tracking disc and brought into the VR world. Obvious objects like a (plastic) gun come to mind for gaming, but also more serious objects, such as sculptor’s tools. Here’s hoping developers take notice of the SDK and give us some killer apps that make full use of the technology.