The current designs in the world of VR stunts adoption. Design can be beneficial not just through the physical realization of form – that will evolve quickly – but by solving the interaction problems we have with VR.
The goal with the design of Air Hand is not just to create a better controller, but to enable a more meaningful way of interacting with content. VR promises a fully immersive experience that parallels and amplifies our interactions from the real world, so the controllers need to follow that path, anything else guides us away from that potential. As FastCo puts it in their article on this effort: “The Air Hand promises to be everything today’s VR systems aren’t: Sleek, cool and effortlessly usable.
Open-hand interaction will be one of the key steps toward enabling a more natural immersive experience. Through prototyping, we found that a simple strap tightened around the hand was not ideal for the types of interaction we imagine because the weight of the ring that orbits the hand would cause instability. By adding tensioned elastic bands that connect the hand strap and the outer ring, our design allows for truly active open hand movements, like throwing a ball.
Tactility and the ability to make small precise movements are critical aspects of controllers. The challenge is to create a controller that you don’t feel, until the moment you want to feel it.
Being able to more meaningfully interact with content in the VR world is not a matter of waiting for the technology to reach a certain level. Through design, these problems are solvable now, much better experiences are within reach, and VR can get closer to realizing its full potential.