When people talk about the promise of virtual reality, they talk about how.
So far, the promise is still just that for most people, but Logitech may have created a new tool that makes it far more appealing for artists.
The device is called the Logitech VR Ink Pilot Edition, a seemingly oversize novelty stylus that’s actually designed to help you create drawings and designs in VR.
The way it works is that you hold it like a normal pen, gripping the two buttons on its sides with your thumb and middle fingers, and your pointing finger on a button on top. Slap a headset on your head, pick up the pen, push down with your pointing finger and just start drawing. You can trace things in 3D space, like drawing literally in air, or you can sit at a table and draw on its surface, Logitech said. And the harder you press, either on the button or on the tip of the stylus, the thicker the line.
“It’s natural — and if you’re a creator or designer, you want a natural and familiar input device,” said Vadim Kogan, head of business development and partnerships for augmented and virtual reality for Logitech. Until now, if people wanted to draw or draft something in VR, they’d have to use a game controller, which Kogan said doesn’t offer the precision Logitech’s VR Ink device can.
“Ultimately, it’s about intuition,” he said. “It’s about the fact that a lot of designers and creators have developed muscle memory” for a pen.
While there’s still a lot of unknowns about Logitech’s device — the company declined to give a price or a firm launch date other than to promise more information later this year — its entry into the VR world is another indication of continued interest in the VR beyond the tech set. That’s good news considering sales of VR headsets have fallen short of some people’s expectations, and VR app and game makers themselves have expressed concern about how long it’s taken for everyday people like you and me to buy in.
But that hasn’t stopped companies from pumping out new ideas. Facebook this month released its $399 Oculus Quest headset, a device designed for the mass market by promising to run high-quality games without the need for a bunch of wires or a powerful computer to power it. Game maker Valve, meanwhile, has also jumped in, offering a new headset called the Valve Index that promises new more intuitive hand controllers and higher quality screens. Meanwhile, companies like HP have pushed to get their headsets in front of potential business customers.
Still, Logitech is treading carefully with its pen. The device I used, which was developed over the past year and a half, was still a 3D-printed prototype. Logitech said it was close to a final design, though. The company also wouldn’t tell me how much the VR Ink Pilot Edition would weigh, which seemed important for something designed to be used as a drawing tool in the air. Again, Logitech said, more information would be announced later.
Logitech’s device works with Valve’s “lighthouse” sensors, meaning it was mostly aimed at HTC’s Vive and the Valve Index, at least to start. Kogan said part of the reason for using the lighthouse sensors was their precision, though he said more announcements were to come.
“It’s our first step,” Kogan said, emphasizing the device is being called a “Pilot Edition.” “We know this is not perfect.”
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