Sony game controller lets you switch from real to unreal gaming on the fly, promises fully immersive experience

I have just kept the PlayStation controller aside after a fierce game of FIFA with my bud. My thumb’s aching and I’m wondering, what if I could disjoin the controller to use the joystick on either side so the pressure could be distributed between both the thumbs? Well, if there was a controller to suffice this demand, it ought to do a little more than just disjoining for user comfort.

A designer believes the average DualShock should be able to rip apart and double up as a Virtual Reality game controller, and we’re intrigued! The Wireless VR controller that gamers would be using with Sony’s fully immersive PS VR headset, potentially in the future, has been modeled after the PS gaming controller’s design language. The artistically pleasing controller is called the “Unreal Control” and it by virtue is an innovative iteration of the Sony gamepad lineup.

Designer: Evgenia Burmistrova

VR game controller, Unreal Control, is not just about the looks and its uncompromising inclination to Sony’s design aesthetics. The controller in fact is built in with VR sensors. The ground intention thus is to combine a regular gamepad with a VR controller. Simply so the gamers don’t have to let go of their session and shift flawlessly from a regular game to a playful real-life adventure in VR. In addition to allowing the gamer to immerse in the world of VR gaming without distraction, the controller also allows one to play games with elements of augmented reality. It is therefore fathomed for an unforgettable emotion across the platform or technology you’d like to interact in.

The wonderful bit about the Unreal is its two-fold design – figuratively! Two controllers are created to play in augmented reality which can be connected together in a frame as a single unit to give you a modern gamepad. The independent controllers with built-in VR sensors can be used individually or connected to function in tune as one controller so you can switch on the fly from unreal game mode to real or vice versa.

No matter the functionality the controller can pull off, its design: look and feel are of equal consideration to a gamer. Combining elements of Sony’s design philosophy, the controller exhibits soft shades and has smooth curves. This makes it really ergonomic to hold and comfortable to play with. This is essentially made possible with the construction material. The controller is made from matte eco-friendly plastic, which makes the accessory slip resistant in the hands and completely recyclable at the end of life. Designed in colors to appeal to both women and men gamers, the VR game controller is progressive and stylish, bound to attract gamers with its brevity, minimalism and simplicity.

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Meet the Microsoft Holo Glasses concept, a consumer-grade fashion-friendly version of the Hololens

Styled less like a piece of hardware and more like functional fashion, the Microsoft Holo Glasses are redemption for exactly how geeky Google’s glasses were in 2013. They scale down Microsoft’s existing Hololens 2 technology into a slim wearable that fits comfortably on your face, and comes with snap-on frames that allow you to swap styles in a hot minute!

The Holo Glasses are a wearable concept that takes Microsoft’s AR chops and makes them consumer-friendly again. Now, I love Microsoft as a company. Satya Nadella’s done wonders by taking it to the trillion dollar club, and Microsoft’s acquisitions of LinkedIn, Github, and Activision Blizzard are a great example of Nadella’s vision for the company… but at the same time, aside from their gaming business, Microsoft’s entirely an enterprise-focused company. They surrendered the smartphone war by bidding adieu to Nokia, and they even took Hololens 2 and turned it into more of a business solution than a consumer gadget. The Holo Glasses, however, make the company cool again!

Designer: Misneok Kim

Schematically, the glasses are pretty much like the Hololens, with cameras and sensors that help with object and spatial tracking, and lenses in front of the eye that help reflect images into the retina. Like the Hololens 2, the Holo Glasses let you see what’s ahead of you too, giving you a mixed reality experience that only a handful of companies have been able to deliver on… although we’re still expecting Apple to launch their AR glasses shortly too!

As is evident in the image below, the Holo Glasses are designed in two parts – the first being the hardware that sits on your face, and the second being a set of magnetic frames that snap onto the glasses, giving them their fashion-forward look. The frames add the aesthetic appeal to the Holo Glasses while the visors on the actual wearable deal with reflecting visuals to your eye. This dual-glass setup can be seen in many other AR headsets, although what this concept does is slim the contraption down to a level where tech and fashion can coexist harmoniously.

These snap-on frames come in a variety of colors and shapes, giving wearers the freedom to choose their ‘look’. You can simply swap out fascias to alter the appearance of your Holo Glasses, and there’s even the option of getting prescription lenses built into the snap-on frames, allowing people with spectacles to wear the Holo Glasses too!

On paper, the Holo Glasses are a pretty nifty concept. They make Microsoft’s existing tech even better and more democratized, so regular users can access game-changing AR technology without breaking the bank. The glasses can be operated by voice or by buttons and touch-sensitive surfaces on the temple stems. Each Holo Glass also comes with bone-conducting audio units built into the ends, delivering audio directly to the wearer without needing to wear earphones. Ultimately, when not worn, the Holo Glasses can be carried around in their spectacle cases, which also double as charging docks for the wearables.

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This FPS gaming VR controller has realistic force feedback to feel actual gun recoil

Virtual reality experiences are gradually going to take over our digital adventures – Metaverse is the prime example – and gaming is the first stepping stone for this transition. The market dotted with VR gaming accessories such as Oculus Touch, HTC Vive, PlayStation Move or Samsung Gear VR already bring superior interaction with the in-game action.

But there’s always room for dedicated VR controller products for FPS games to come alive. The ViR controller designed for VR platforms is inspired by the PlayStation 5 controller, and it brings a refreshing take on what ergonomic gaming accessories of the future ought to be like. Not on PS5, but the controller will be compatible across a range of gaming and VR applications.

Designer: Tom Man Design

Typically crafted for first-person shooting action, the ergonomic controller concept brings forth a realistic sensory experience for the gamers in virtual reality. Just imagine feeling the gun recoil, as would in real life, while toppling enemies like dominos in a gory blood bath. The motivation of the concept is to break the traditional look of guns and pistols for existing controllers, and bring a more settled and elegant design. This is important because in the coming years how we experience virtual reality in games is going to be on an altogether different scale.

The ViR controller feels like an actual weapon in hands, but visually it is a toned-down version of a gun, to keep things practical for frequent use. It has very realistic feedback – combining dynamic trigger, front-facing stereo cameras, full thumb and finger tracking, and actuators. All these in combination simulate the real feel of the gamer’s on-screen action. According to the designer, the dynamic trigger
brings a very refined level of force and tension feedback, as you interact with the in-game equipment and environment, to get a more realistic experience.

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Apple Vision renders what the eventual mixed reality headset from the Cupertino giant could be

Apple was expected to release information about its mixed reality headset at the recently concluded WWDC 2022. Since the fans were left disappointed, there is no other option but to treat our eyes to designers’ interpretation of what the anticipated headset – that could herald Apple into a new dimension – would look like.

Rumors of Apple working on some kind of Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality headset have been shrouding us for a very-very long time. While we have no clarity on what to expect from the headset and when it may be launched, designer Marcus Kane has conceptualized the Apple Vision – an adaptation of Apple’s mixed reality headset, based on its leaks, rumors, and patents.

Designer: Marcus Kane

If analyst Mark Gurman – who has a long-standing record for accurately predicting Apple’s product plans – is to be believed, the new headset will launch in 2023. The unit will be accompanied by a slew of other products, between fall this year and early 2023, Gurman notes. The ambitious period for Apple is just around the corner, and we are speculatively looking at the new iPhone 14 models, updated iPads, AirPods Pro, and an interesting new HomePod.

Besides, there is a likely possibility that Apple would roll out a few Mac models powered by in-house M2 and M3 chips. Reportedly, the M2 chip could also power the company’s premier mixed reality headset. Whether the Apple headset would eventually be an everyday wear or a Meta Quest 2-eseqe headset, only time will tell. For now, Apple Vision speculates it as any other VR headset on the market – a design that is not too far from the Quest 2.

A comfortable fit is perhaps guaranteed by its curved design with breathable soft mesh cushioning to rest against the face. The adjustable rubber headband would presumably be swappable – as Apple’s eventual headset is expected to achieve. The Apple Vision renders are much influenced by the images of the Apple headset idealized by concept maker Ian Zelbo, but it is likely to support microphones, spatial audio and immersive 8K viewing with response to the wearer’s eye movements and maybe hand gestures using onboard optical cameras.

According to rumors, the mixed reality headset is going to pack 16 gigs of RAM with an M2 processor powering its guts. This if eventually achieved will catapult AR/VR experience offered by the Apple headset well past the Meta’s VR headset option or even any other examples currently out there. Slated to be a dynamic choice for users when launched in 2023, will the headset end up looking anything like the Apple Vision, what do you think?

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This Metaverse streaming device connects virtual world with the real one

The augmented reality and virtual reality applications aided by the sensory inputs to blur the lines between the real and the virtual world are staring us right into the eye. Metaverse is the endgame (that’s what we can assume at this point in time) of this cohesive amalgam of hardware and software ecosystems. Currently, in its infancy stage, the market forecast hints at almost double the growth since 2020 in VR and AR applications. Hence, Metaverse applications too are going to get an exponential boost.

This cool gadget for connecting the real world and the Metaverse world is a gateway for extended usability, providing a smooth transition between the two realms. It makes even more sense keeping in mind the future where the lines will be so blurry that identifying the real from the virtual will be vital. This portal will actuate all the possible applications connected to the Metaverse like gaming, roaming in the VR world, or even having a pseudo-life in an alternate reality!

Designer: Fountain Studio

Users are connected to the VR world via the interface of this gadget having a bezeless display and buttons including power on/off, microphone access, and home button. The user has full control over the peripheral device management and a list of compatible applications it can use. When not having intense visual entertainment in the virtual world, the user can interact with other users using the integrated messenger application to ascertain where you need to invest your time.

So, whether you are going all-in shooting enemies in a game using the Oculus Quest 2 or having a milder experience of roaming in your favorite locations in VR, the gadget manages everything seamlessly, so that you don’t have to go through any hassle of synchronizing hardware and apps. It’ll be like your trusted streaming device for the virtual world.

 

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This AR visor cap concept looks like an acceptable middle ground

Given today’s limitations in technology and manufacturing, AR glasses similar to Tony Stark’s are still a matter of science fiction. We are getting closer to that ideal, but it’s impossible to jump forward into the future without leaving the present behind without a solution. AR headsets today, even those that should leave you free to experience the world around you, are still bulky and uncomfortable to wear, which means they are less likely to be embraced by the people who should be using them. There is, of course, no shortage of ideas on how to address that problem while waiting for the perfect pair of augmented glasses, and one, in particular, seems to take inspiration from a more familiar visor cap.

Designers: Cheolhee Lee, Junsik Oh, Soyoung Lee

Even the lightest AR headset feels like you’re donning a piece of armor like a helmet, preparing to jump into battle. The ones that do try to make you look and feel like a bee or someone wearing military-grade night-vision goggles. In both cases, the hardware makes no effort to hide that it’s pushing a screen in your face, getting in the way of the rest of your vision. Not a problem when you’re leisurely enjoying the Metaverse, but a dangerous situation to be in when you’re walking around a factory.

The TNTN AR headset, in contrast, is designed with industrial work environments in mind. It looks more like a sun visor or visor cap, and to some extent, it wears like one as well. It wraps around your head like other AR headsets but sits slightly higher than most. Most importantly, however, the heads-up display doesn’t completely block the wearer’s line of sight and occupies only a small portion of their vision.

To some extent, this AR headset is really designed to only augment reality rather than replace it, adding information that only appears near the top of one’s field of view. This allows wearers to be more aware of their surroundings, which could be critical in applications where AR is already in use today, particularly in industrial fields.

The TNTN is specifically designed for comfort and usability, though all AR headsets will probably claim to be similar. Similar to a visor cap, the strap extends and retracts, though it’s probably made of more durable material than rubber. This allows the headset to fit any head and can even fit around safety helmets.

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Despite being designed for industrial workers, it’s not difficult to see the TNTN being used in other fields as well, especially where awareness of the real world is just as important as seeing the virtual overlays, such as in operating rooms. The flexibility of the headset’s design also means that wearers won’t have to sacrifice their safety or even their style. The TNTN AR headset definitely looks like an acceptable compromise until we finally get our stylish Ray-ban AR glasses.

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Apple WWDC 2022 is just around the corner: What Product Designers Need to Know

WWDC is always an exciting time for Apple fans. Although the event is primarily aimed at developers, hence the name, there is always something that can be gleaned from what Apple reveals, both on stage and sometimes behind closed doors. Sometimes, there is a new device to pine for in the months ahead, though most of the time, the focus will be on new user experiences delivered through the next releases of macOS, iOS, and iPadOS. This year is no exception, of course, though whispers seem to be more subdued and modest than before. That said, there are still a few interesting things that could be announced this Monday, including some that will affect product designers in one way or another.

Designer: Ian Zelbo (rendersbyian)

2022 MacBook Air Colors

Apple broke tradition last year when it announced the new iMacs that came in a variety of colors. As a company best known for its almost clinical choice of colors, this unexpected move seemed like a nod to the candy-colored iMac G3 of old, as well as the more colorful iPhone 5c. Given this sudden change in direction, it wasn’t surprising when rumors started popping up about the MacBook Air getting the same colorful treatment.

Unfortunately, the last-minute word from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman is less than encouraging. Despite hopes, dreams, rumors, and drool-worthy renders, the journalist and industry tipster claims that those reports were “probably exaggerated.” Instead, he believes the 2022 MacBook Air will still come in the same trio of hues, namely space gray, silver, and gold. The only change, he says, is that the gold would look more like champagne.

Though the absence of colorful options might be disappointing, the expected arrival of a notch might be even more devastating. The design has been widely debated on the Internet, but Apple might not be backing down from it, at least not yet. Either way, the notch has forced many apps to design around it, changing the user experience, for better or for worse.

AR Headset

The Metaverse isn’t ready yet for Apple, at least not in the way that most people presume the Metaverse to be. Apple is a big believer in augmented and mixed reality, and it’s no secret that it is working on its own AR platform behind the scenes. It’s just not ready to come out with its own headset yet, not even a prototype, so AR hopefuls will have to wait yet another year, or possibly later this year.

That doesn’t mean Apple will be silent on the AR front, though. Its focus will instead be to arm developers with the weapons they need to tackle the problem of adapting their apps for an AR future. Apple already has laid some of the groundwork for these, enabling iPhones and iPads to become windows into this mashup of the real and the virtual. New tools are expected to be announced at WWDC, including one that gives apps the ability to react to QR codes. This, for example, could kick off an AR experience after a user scans a QR code printed on a piece of IKEA furniture.

iOS 16 Always-on Display

The next version of iOS 16 will reportedly gain a capability that the Apple Watch has long had. With Always-On Display or AOD, the iPhone screen could keep on running even when you don’t see anything but will barely consume any power. It can also only light up the specific pixels required to display a notification or some widget with important information.

Designer: Apple

It’s a feature that’s a long time coming, but it remains to be seen whether it will be a battery-saver or a battery-drainer. Accessory makers, particularly for cases and docks, as well as app developers, might try to take advantage of this new capability by allowing the iPhone to function as a smart display when docked or by showing only a portion of the screen through a cutout of a folio case.

iPadOS 16 Multitasking

The next version of iOS for iPads will take Apple’s tablets one step closer to becoming a full computer replacement. iPadOS 16 might include more powerful multitasking features, including one that will allow owners to run apps in floating windows that they can resize and move around, similar to desktop platforms like macOS and Windows. There seems to be a bit of controversy regarding this feature and its impact on the iPad as well as the relationship between macOS and iPadOS, but it is generally being welcomed by iPad Pro owners who have been using the tablet as their bread and butter device.

The iPad Pro has long been a favorite among designers of all trades as a mobile workstation that can almost replace their laptops. These upcoming multitasking improvements could become a game-changer for them, allowing them more control and freedom in their workflows. That said, it will most likely require developers to also adopt those new features, and the user experience for these products could change in a drastic way soon.

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When AR and VR meet the outdoors. This mixed reality headset was designed to be worn everywhere

Metaverse, meet universe. So much of our AR and VR experience is limited to the indoors. When the landline became a truly wireless (or cordless) device, the first thing that people did was move around with it. No wires means no boundaries, and the smartphone experience is proof. You can use a phone in the subway, on a mountain, even in the middle of a lake. AR/VR headsets? Not so much.

Designed as a graduation project by the students of Hongik University, Calypso is a mixed reality headset that’s designed to be worn and experienced outdoors. While the original intent of the MR headset was to be able to visualize micro aspects of the world like viruses in a much more observable way (making the microscopic world macroscopic), the Calypso’s design treatment is quite impressive, with the way the headset promotes outdoor use without sacrificing functionality or processing power.

Designers: Hyelim Shin & Youngin Cho

So, how does Calypso do that? Well, it works quite like a desktop computer does… by separating the display from the processing unit. The Calypso’s processor sits in a cylindrical gadget that straps to your body, while the display itself fits around your head, with both the devices interfacing wirelessly. Cameras on the headset send information to the ‘computer’, and the computer in return sends data back that gets displayed on the headset’s tinted MR glasses.

This separation is truly a thing of marvel, as it allows the headset to be a slick, non-clunky device (unlike current AR/VR gear that actually look like massive cinder blocks strapped to your face). Pretty much just the way a cloud server works, all the processing happens ‘outside’ the headset. If I had to draw a parallel, Google’s Stadia would be the perfect analogy. Instead of owning a powerful gaming computer that runs processor-heavy games, Stadia lets you outsource the processing online, so you’re just effectively streaming the game while playing it. Calypso works similarly, with the headset and the body-worn processor interfacing wirelessly.

This really removes all constraints for the headset’s design. There’s no need for a large CPU/GPU, a massive battery, inbuilt memory, or advanced cooling systems. The headset is now a rather sleek looking wearable that clips together magnetically near the bridge of the nose.  Wear the headset when you want to, unplug it and have it resting around your neck when you don’t… it’s entirely up to you.

Cameras on the Calypso give it its augmented reality abilities and spatial awareness. The Calypso comes with two cameras/sensors beside each lens, creating an array of four sensors near the nose, as well as two cameras on either side, above the cheeks. Astute observers will also notice the bone-conducting headphones on the temple-stems, allowing you to immerse yourself in audiovisual content.

The Calypso’s ‘meat’ lies in its body-worn processing center. This cylinder contains everything the Calypso needs to be a high-performance device. It houses a motherboard, CPU and GPU, storage, battery, cooling system, and speakers on each side that work in unison with the headset, sending and receiving information in real-time.

Is something like Calypso possible in real life? Well, the most immediate concern is sheer latency, given the amount of data input/output happening between the two devices. Something makes me think that 5G could, to some degree, solve those problems, although a simple cable also works, personally. Sure, it destroys the futuristic illusion of having two wireless devices, but then again, is a cable really that bad after all??

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Apple has previewed its AR/VR glasses to its board of directors, hinting at a near-future launch

The Apple AR/VR headset may be just around the corner. Can we expect a 2022 announcement this fall??

A report last week by Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman has revealed that Apple has internally begun demonstrating its secret AR/VR headset concept. “Apple Inc. executives previewed its upcoming mixed-reality headset to the company’s board last week, indicating that development of the device has reached an advanced stage”, Gurman mentioned in the Bloomberg article. The company’s board, comprising of 8 directors and Apple CEO Tim Cook, meets at least four times each year to evaluate the Silicon Valley giant’s progress. This time, the board members were made privy to what seems like a final version of Apple’s augmented reality headset prototype that the world has been referring to as Apple Glass.

Apple Glass concept by Antonio De Rosa

This marks an important milestone in Apple’s roadmap, hinting at the fact that the AR glasses are in their most advanced stage. It also would be Apple’s FIRST new product (not including the AirPods Max) to be announced without the company’s legendary former designer Jony Ive. The Apple Watch was announced back in 2014 when Ive was the Chief Design Officer.

Here’s a look at a concept pair of Apple AR glasses created by Antonio De Rosa, designed to resemble the iconic spectacles Steve Jobs wore. De Rosa’s Apple Glass concept comes equipped with 6 cameras that perform environment-mapping, eye tracking, and hand + gesture recognition. Everything sits in a frame that’s incredibly slim, looking less like hardware and more like a fashion accessory – an approach that’s important Apple’s fashion-friendly ethos. The Apple Glass concept even comes along with a rather wide charging case, styled to look like an elongated version of the company’s AirPods case.

In recent weeks, Apple has also ramped up the development of a new native OS for its rumored headset, codenamed rOS, or reality operating system. That progress, coupled with the board presentation, hints at the fact that we could be a few mere months away from Tim Cook announcing the new product. Chances are, however, that we’ll see production leaks to get a better idea of the AR headset’s design once Apple begins reaching out to manufacturers with a concrete production-ready prototype.

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AirRes Mask wants to make the Metaverse a bit too realistic

We experience virtual reality by proxy through goggles and controllers, but a new mask could give us a first-hand feel of a potentially harrowing Metaverse experience.

Virtual and augmented reality are supposed to enable us to easily go places where we can’t physically reach otherwise or experience things that would be impossible under the laws of physics. Being able to walk the surface of Mars without worrying about how to breathe is one of the many experiences that the Metaverse promises to deliver, sooner or later. At the same time, however, some people criticize these experiences as clearly fake and unbelievable because you can only see but not feel or smell the real thing. For better or worse, a team of researchers is trying to at least replicate how you breathe in virtual worlds, but it might make it feel too real to the point that our brains and bodies won’t be able to distinguish what is real and what isn’t.

Designers: Markus Tatzgern, Michael Domhardt, Martin Wolf, Michael Cenger, Gerlinde Emsenhuber, Radomir Dinic, Nathalie Gerner, Arnulf Hartl

Virtual reality hardware naturally starts with the eyes and ears, as they are the easiest and most important of the senses to deceive in order to create a suspension of belief. No matter how convincing that illusion is, however, it breaks down when you start trying to move around and interact with the virtual world, which happens in the real world through controllers while standing completely still. Much of the R&D in the technologies that will power the so-called Metaverse revolve around navigation and interaction more believable, like with the use of gloves and walking machines. Very few address the believability of the sense of smell or, at the very least, the act of breathing.

Researchers from the Salzburg University of Applied Sciences in Austria are investigating that are of the virtual experience by creating a mask design to restrict airflow to control breathing resistance and, therefore, the wearer’s breathing capability. The prototype looks like a whitewashed dystopian gas mask and almost hints at the contraption’s rather serious and almost critical application. A final product would look more refined, presuming something like this would ever be made commercially in the first place.

The idea is almost simple when you first hear about it, and it’s about making the virtual experience more believable by tricking your body into thinking they’re dealing with real-world situations. Walking through a house that’s on fire might not smell like the real thing, but the mask can regulate and restrict airflow so that you’d experience the same difficulty in breathing as you would if you were in a real-life fire. It might activate the brain’s natural fight-or-flight response, taking the experience closer to reality without actually endangering the wearer. Hopefully, the wearer is physically fit to experience that kind of stress, though.

Conversely, the person’s breathing could also be used as an additional way to control their virtual avatar, making their digital counterpart look as exhausted as they are in the real world. It can also open the doors to activities and games that would normally require you to blow air, like blowing out candles or blowing up balloons. The mask can also be used as a control and monitoring device for training simulations for firefighters and emergency personnel.

The same people that criticize virtual reality for being so obviously fake might also criticize this kind of invention for going overboard and making the experience too realistic. In a way, realism could actually remove some of the appeal of the Metaverse, particularly the ability to experience different places, worlds, and things without having to worry about hyperventilating. Of course, there will be experiences that are perfect for such breathing control devices, like horror games or exercise activities, but most people will probably try to do without the added gear. Alternatively, such a mask can be more useful for medical applications, helping medical personnel diagnose a patient’s well-being through monitored and regulated breathing.

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