This $25,000 VR Robot Pushes Back When You Play

VR platforms like the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift transport you to faraway worlds. HTC's controllers let Vive owners interact with the virtual world, but enthusiasts haven't been able to feel physical feedback. We're probably a long way from that type of feedback making it into the mainstream, but one researcher has found an interesting way to make it happen: robots.


Researcher Justin Devine at Queen's University Belfast is using a $25,000 industrial machine called Baxter for the experiment. Users wear an HTC Vive and use its controllers to push virtual wooden boxes of varying weights. Baxter holds a wooden plank and pushes against the controller so it feels like you were applying force to the box in the real world.

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This isn't a full game, just a proof of concept for now, but one that can improve virtual reality tremendously. After all, if you press a box -- or any other solid object, for that matter -- and don't feel the pressure you're expecting, it can make you feel less immersed. This robot, however, is far too expensive to be a consumer solution to the problem.

"We’re showing what’s possible," Devine told Digital Trends. "It might give some people with more resources a few ideas. Imagine a robotic arm attached to the ceiling in each of the four corners of your VR room: you’d have force feedback for 360 degrees."

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