Haptics: The Next Frontier in VR - A Conversation with Craig Douglass of Contact CI

Virtual Reality (VR) has come a long way since its inception, but there's one frontier that remains largely uncharted: haptics. In a recent episode of the "Between Realities" podcast, Craig Douglass, CEO of Contact CI, delved deep into the world of haptic technology and its potential to revolutionize the VR experience.

The Journey to Mass Adoption

One of the recurring themes of the podcast was the challenge of achieving mass adoption for VR technology. While there are many perspectives on this, Craig emphasized the importance of hand tracking. He expressed his excitement about devices that prioritize hand tracking, noting that it's crucial for haptics to be useful and integrated seamlessly.

Craig pointed out that over the past nine years, haptic technology wasn't given much consideration until advancements like Gemini's ultraleap tracking made it viable for consumer use. He also touched upon the user friction associated with wearable technology, drawing parallels with how products like Nike shoes or Oakley goggles make users feel. The key, he suggested, is to make users feel empowered and excited, rather than burdened, when they gear up for a VR experience.

The Role of Ergonomics

Another fascinating aspect of the conversation revolved around ergonomics. Craig emphasized how our brains have adapted to our hand movements throughout our lives. This understanding is crucial when designing haptic gloves, ensuring that users' expectations align with their real-world experiences. The goal is to make the virtual experience feel as natural and intuitive as possible.

The Vision of Contact CI

Craig shared that Contact CI's primary focus is on simulation training and other enterprise applications. This approach allows them to refine their hardware and software, paving the way for eventual consumer adoption. He highlighted the company's commitment to being additive, meaning they aim to enhance existing hand tracking solutions rather than replace them.

When asked about the future, Craig was optimistic about the potential for a consumer version of their haptic gloves. He hinted at past collaborations and emphasized that a consumer-focused product is definitely on their roadmap.

The Exciting Road Ahead

The podcast episode wrapped up with a reflection on the exciting times ahead for haptics and VR. Both the hosts and Craig expressed their enthusiasm for the innovations on the horizon. With companies like Contact CI leading the charge, the future of VR promises to be not just visually immersive but tactilely engaging as well.

In Conclusion

As VR continues to evolve, the integration of haptic technology will play a pivotal role in enhancing user immersion. With pioneers like Craig Douglass and Contact CI at the forefront, the VR community can look forward to a future where the virtual world feels as tangible as the real one.

Watch or listen to the full episode here:
Haptics Revolution: Craig Douglass on Pioneering Touch in VR - A Contact CI Deep Dive | S07E017