VirtualGrasp makes VR hand animations convincingly real

Ever wonder when your virtual reality hands will even mimic your real hand motion and grip? VirtualGrasp is trying to hack into your games and make it real.



The problem of ‘funny’ virtual hands

Cringing whenever you play with your HTC Vive and your virtual hands looks funny when in the motion of gripping some weapons in the VR game? It looks weird and totally out of place it just glitches out, skipping frames that it seems so normal but totally non-immersive to experience.

Well, a Swedish robotics specialists, Gleechi are working on a system that gives game developers to fix that same problem. They aim to deliver realistic, realtime and dynamic interaction animations to your virtual reality hands which in turn will show a very compelling and convincing, totally immersive VR experience.

By the end of this year, any virtual reality platform would have came up with some hand motion solution. With the likes of the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift motion controllers, giving game developers the kit to manage hand actions is important to complete the whole virtual reality experience. But until that time comes when they finally release such features in their own platforms, our hand interactions within each VR game will remain funny looking.

Picking up virtual objects will go out of sync because touch controllers does not necessarily coincide with the hand position and orientation when compared to the virtual world. This ends up a skipping and somewhat crude animation of objects appearing on the hand like it’s magnetized.

Hand presence isn’t just about accuracy of their position in space then, but also about representing the myriad subtleties our endlessly adaptable digits are capable of. For example, observe yourself picking up a tumbler glass, your fingers will wrap the cylinder securely, picking a wine glass though and you may clasp more daintily by the stem. Not only that, if your grip will change depending where on that object you choose to hold it. The sorts of subtleties we take for granted in every day life are generally deemed expendable in games and ‘brute forcing’ a real solution – say a canned animation for every world object – is clearly out of the question.

Gleechi can solve it

Gleechi wants to solve this problem once and for all. They claim that the animation systems they are currently developing are derived from over 8 years of robotic research conducted by KTH, a leading technical university in Sweden.

Gleechi’s says that its VirtualGrasp product resolves the need for labour intensive manual animations for the hands by using a “predictive and adaptive algorithm” which analyses the ‘physical’ properties of a virtual object, deciphering the most appropriate and realistic grip formation for the in-game hand model and snapping to that position. The software is still in an early state, but as you can see in the video embedded at the top of the page, it really does seem to work and seeing it in action you realise just how poor most in-game interactions look.

VirtualGrasp will then become a technology with many benefits not only for virtual gamers but to ordinary users who uses app that depends on hand interactions and virtual presence. This will eventually lead to many advances not only in a specific body part, but to many others which needs efficient and fast algorithms to move like the ‘real’ thing.

Visit Gleechi Website

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