Microsoft Research, a creative R&D department of Microsoft, has unveiled their new toy, Digits. Digits is a wrist mounted AVR controller which allows users to interface with phones, tablets, televisions, computers, and consoles.
The bracelet (more like steam punk bracers) uses infrared sensors mounted on the top and side, to create a fully articulated virtual hand capable of accurate movement and gestures. This means you don’t have to wear those suffocating, ill-fitting, easily damaged VR gloves any longer if you want a virtual reality hand flailing experience.
The video shows off the neat things you can do with the device (which they constructed from off the shelf products, so I guess go build one) including using it to subtly control your cell phone without taking it out of your pocket. You can wiggle your thumb and answer a call, or flail about pretending you’re running the Enterprise weapons system, when you’re really just scrolling through a playlist of songs or changing radio stations.
One of the biggest things to note here would be the implications of what it means going forward with new gaming technology. Digits has been successfully used for navigating game environments and using weapons, it works.
Sure, this is a prototype, and it has trouble with things like recognising crossed fingers, but this is another sign that the big companies are finally heading in the right direction with new technology.
We talked about the companies building new VR technology a little while ago, we can add Microsoft to that list now. Could you imagine combining a similar concept with the Oculus Rift or Project Glass? Things would start to get super crazy, in an awesome way, not in a, “Oh man, my ex filled my car with angry bees and welded the doors shut with me inside.” kind of way.
We’re getting there guys.
No official word on a retail release date or even if there will be a retail version, but fingers crossed (that was a joke), that we’ll be seeing it by the last quarter of 2014.