Virtual recoil is the new VR. That’s according to
Technologies, which has developed the most realistic gun recoil
haptic technology for military training, and now plans to morph
that system for the consumer market.
“Translating this into the gaming world, we wouldn’t do things
that are too realistic,” Kyle Monti, chief science officer at
Dekka, tells Wired.co.uk. “But something like Halo, where
the gun vibrates before it shoots, would be ideal. We’ve also got
ideas for a wand, where you move the centre of gravity in a virtual
These interpretations are key. Because what Dekka is demoing at
production company Intition’s headquarters when Wired.co.uk meets
them, is a big ol’
realistic, rapid-fire gun.
It is, the company says, probably the most realistic
representation you’ll find without firing the real thing, designed
to perform at an accuracy of within one millimetre. In fact, it’s
so realistic, the kit was held up in UK customs for a day — before
the team pointed out the electronics inside the 3D printed add-on
that contains them. “Visuals for the military would typically use
video capture software and they would shoot in infrared,” says
Monti. “But the pneumatic recoil kind of sucks and is not that
accurate. We realised an electric solution would be amazing.”
That was two years ago, at the Launchpad accelerator in the US.
Now the company is in talks with defence companies to get the
product into training regimes. They envisage integrating haptic
feedback into everything, from the weapons to vehicle simulators.
That way, they can save the cost of petrol and never actually have
to put a gun in the hand of a true amateur again.
Being rather unaccustomed to shooting a gun (and not a huge fan
of them), we thought we’d give it a try. The demo we played was
knocked together in a short frame of time with Oculus Rift. But once the sensor locks on and the gun stopped
floating in our faces as it did at the start of the trial, the
effect was alarmingly real. And really fun.
The creepy factor of using a gun made to look and feel like the
real thing becomes clear when you swing round in the virtual world
Dekka had designed, away from the nice targets setup in a field, to
a bunch of figures walking around. First we’re told they’re
zombies. They certainly move like them, but they have more of a
look of the real mall-going human lemmings George Romero had in
mind when he penned Dawn Of The Dead. The saving grace is,
they’re a bit more like blob people, they’re totally orange, and
when you shoot the slow-moving folk they burst and wither to the
ground like deflated balloons.
But when companies like TrackingPoint are creating streaming apps for Google Glass that
let people shoot round corners, turning amateurs into well-trained
marksman in the real world, does Dekka foresee any danger with
bringing that realism into gaming?
“Disturbing things like that are happening in the military,”
says Monti. “But those types of things wouldn’t have the same
features the military version has. But anyway I wouldn’t derive
pleasure from creating those kinds of realistic sims for kids and
prop guns. We want to create laser beams and virtual voltage.” He
points out that 32 millions people play Call of Duty, and
many want more realism. Putting a stop to someone making it more
real, would likely be tricky, but that’s not a reason to prevent
innovation in other areas.
Dekka’s Martin Holly says he wants to see the game of laser tag
totally remorphed using virtual reality and virtual recoil, with
players turned into their own avatars and everyone able to
manipulate their surroundings.
“It could be an experience that’s realistic but adds fantasy.
You could run along and grab a token for invisibility, things like
that.” It will be about personalising every moment of your gaming
experience, Holly predicts, with players even able to 3D print
their own recoil capsule.