So in case you haven’t noticed, the realm of virtual reality (VR) is evolving by leaps and bounds over the past couple of years. If 2016 was the breakthrough year with big-brand hardware platforms like the Sony PlayStation VR, HTC Vive, and Oculus Rift hitting the store shelves, the year 2017 saw the floodgates open for a wave of fresh VR-optimized content and clever implementations.
Yet, despite all the advancements we have witnessed so far, never did we have a feature set in any existing VR-enabled hardware that could create wind synchronized with events in VR games. While that may sound trivial to some readers, video gamers would know the importance of a multi-sensory output that doesn’t ignore the critical elements such as the ability to experience winds in simulated realities.
Thankfully, a startup company has answered the call and is now on its way to launch the first-of-its-kind VR accessory that adds realistic winds to enrich your VR experience. Dubbed ZephVR, this new invention is the brainchild of New York City-based Weasel Labs.
ZephVR operates by attaching to popular VR headsets such as HTC Vive or PlayStation VR etc. It comes equipped with built-in fans for creating realistic winds synchronized with events in your VR content. However, note that it is a third-party accessory that works independently from your VR headset. So creating the desired effect accurately in real-time is not nearly as easy as it may seem on a casual observation.
The device uses machine learning to recognize events in your VR content (such as games) by analyzing its audio tracks and then activating its fans just at the right moment. This yields in a far richer and more realistic experience whenever there’s a wind in the game. In other words, with ZephVR in your gaming inventory, you will be able to actually feel when you are sailing through a storm, flying, accelerating, or falling from a height in your games.
Weasel Labs Launches Kickstarter Campaign For ZephVR
Weasel Labs has so far bagged largely positive feedback from analysts and end users alike for its innovative approach with the ZephVR. Buoyed by the device’s initial success, the company announced a Kickstarter campaign earlier this month with a stated goal of $30,000. The campaign will go live on November 2 and will last for 30 days.
“The ZephVR transforms any VR experience into a multi-sensory, physically immersive adventure,” said Sean Spielberg, the company’s co-founder, and CEO. “Wind is one of the most critical elements in turning a game into a reality. Until now, experiences that incorporate the wind have only been available at theme parks and exhibitions.”
Paige Pruitt, co-founder and CTO of Weasel Labs, says that she was the one to have come up with the initial idea that would later manifest in the ZephVR. Apparently, she was playing a racing game in her PlayStation VR when she accidentally put her head in front of a window fan.
“It felt so real, and I couldn’t stop giggling,” she said. “I immediately started thinking about recreating moments like this for other games.”
Weasel Labs came into existence shortly after in 2017 as a collaboration between Spielberg and Pruitt.