VR headsets, such as Facebook’s Oculus Rift, HTC’s Vive or Sony’s PlayStation VR are probably the first things to come to mind when thinking about gaming wearables. Despite the literally game-changing immersive experience they offer, VR headsets lack important features of truly wearable devices, such as portability, usability, and a fashionable design, which create additional obstacles to the product development process. In the following, we review how companies could overcome these obstacles and create portable, user-friendly and stylish gaming wearables that pave the way of how we will play video games in the near future.
In contrast to VR headsets, the Avegant Glyph simulates a large screen by projecting an image through millions of micromirrors directly to the retina. The main application uses include movies and video games on any HDMI supporting mobile device and laptop. The Glyph can even be used as an FPV viewer for camera-equipped drones. During the prototyping phase, Avegant developed the optics and circuit boards, while Tekna made ergonomic and aesthetic adjustments. Challenges included finding the right headset size for various head shapes as well as reducing weight, size, and part count.
With a Kickstarter campaign raising $1.5 million, multiple awards and a current collaboration with United Airlines, the Avegant Glyph is a technological and commercial success. (One of the co-founders represented the company as a participant in HWTrek’s first Asia Innovation Tour in 2014.)
If you are looking for DLP solutions for VR headsets with millions of micromirror arrays, then start by connecting with an expert from Texas instruments on the HWTrek platform. If you are looking for a completed solution, we recommend getting in touch with SuperD on the HWTrek platform.
Initially developed for football helmets to prevent players being hit, the Omniwear Arc consists of 8 haptic sensors, which send out signals to the gamers, revealing the enemy’s position. Gamers need to pair their mobile phone with the Arc and point the camera lens at the game’s minimap. In the prototyping phase, the number of sensors was reduced from 30 to 8, and the product design was changed from a skullcap to a necklace, as users asked for a smaller and more stylish solution.
The initial Kickstarter campaign of October 2016 was canceled, which might be related to a limited support of only 2 compatible games. If this challenge is solved, the Omniwear Arc has the potential to become a valuable companion to professional video gamers in the following years.
If you’re interested in creating a device such as Omniwear Arc and are in search of sensor solutions, you can reach out to Japan’s MegaChips—a fabless manufacturer creating tech for value-added mobile & IoT industry applications. They offer the frizz solution, a next-generation sensor-hub LSI for wearables and smartphones with high-end arithmetic processing and low-power consumption
For joint design manufacturing support, you can start your project development journey by connecting with an expert on the HWTrek platform such as Rone Phoenix Nest, which specializes in providing an overall design solution, including project evaluation, design & development, and supply chain management for IoT wearable devices. Also check out our interview of Roger Li, COO of Rone Phoenix Nest: “Turning Amazing Wearable Designs Into Amazing Products.”
Published by Ubisoft France in the end of 2015, the O.Zen is designed to improve one’s breathing, resulting in stress reduction and a healthy heart rate. From 2009 to 2015, Ubisoft worked together with Neotrope to develop the wearable heart rate sensor as well as a breathing game, which analyses and makes use of the user’s biometric data. In 2013, Ubisoft teamed up with Souffl to test the marketability of the solution.
The results of the market studies suggested to publish O.Zen for mobile devices instead of computers and to follow an early adopter acquisition strategy, which is often pursued by start-ups. Since October 2015, the O.Zen is available in France. With the O.Zen, Ubisoft pioneered the usage of biometric data inside video games. Biometrics is still a new concept to video games. However, the amount of potential application uses is huge: Using the gamer’s heart rate to influence the shooting accuracy or holding one’s breath in an underwater level are examples, which we might see in the near future.
If your biometric device project development journey is just kicking off, consider reaching out to an expert on the HWTrek platform providing a full package of services from product ideation to mass production like JoyMed Technology, which can provide product/electrical/mechanical design, verification, and contract manufacturing services.
If you’re looking for an expert to help develop a connected wellness app or heart rate sensor for a device biometric device project, you can connect with Neotrope on the HWTrek platform.
George Levay lost both hands and parts of his facial skin as a result of a meningitis infection 5 years ago. The idea to develop a video game controller for the feet came during a simple class assignment at the biomedical engineering department of the Johns Hopkins University. Levay and his fellow students Adam Li and Nhat Tran formed the GEAR (Game Enhancing Augmented Reality) team and developed the first prototype, which consists of adjustable padded footwear and 3 sensors to pick up foot movements, such as tilting and raising the heels. The PCB enables each shoe to control 8 buttons, which could eventually increase up to 20.
With the help of Johns Hopkins, the GEAR team could file a provisional patent and won the $7,500 grand prize in the 2016 Intel-Cornell Cup for innovative applications in the area of embedded technologies. Currently, the team is looking for a licensing agreement with a big company to make their invention accessible to a wide audience.
For a project like the GEAR controller, you can connect with an expert on the HWTrek platform from Murata for sensor and control switch solutions. Kyoto-based Murata focuses on the design, manufacture, and supply of IoT electronic components, including sensors & modules.
In addition, consider reaching out to Japan’s Taiyo Industrial for flexible printed circuit FPC boards that meet needs for fine-pitched circuitry.
An outlook to a truly immersive gaming experience
While VR headsets took almost the entire spotlight of gaming wearables in the recent years, these case studies show that there is much more to expect in the near future. I cannot wait for the day when I am flying at 30,000 feet to the next CES show, put on my mobile VR headset including limb movement sensors, hold my breath and control my heartbeat, while my shirt gives me haptic signals from all directions. Innovative gaming wearables are an indispensable ingredient to bring a truly immersive gaming experience to the next level.
(This post was written by a guest writer)