Finding awesome accessories to use in smartphone-based VR isn't easy. For the most part what you'll find are gamepads, which don't work everywhere. There is a pretty awesome looking accessory that's currently aimed at solving this problem, and we're taking a very early look at a prototype! RevolVR is a simple controller that offers directional tracking for smartphone-based VR, in this case a gun that you can move with your hand and have the VR version of that gun move around in the VR world!
Keep reading for the details on an accessory unlike anything else we've seen for Google Cardboard.
What is RevolVR?
RevolVr is an accessory that is specifically built for playing shooters in VR. Vaguely gun shaped, and currently sporting two buttons, it's a great way to play shooters without losing any immersion in the process. It's being built specifically for playing those shooting games in VR, and they've worked pretty hard to make a controller that is easy to use even when you can't really see what you are doing.
Unfortunately we can't show you the finished product yet, because it's still in development. What we do have is the beta controller, a 3D printed, working, proof of concept model. Don't judge this little white block by its appearance, plenty of changes will occur between this and the final working retail model. You can also see the mock up below of the finished, fully funded project.
Since it attaches via Bluetooth, the RevolVR is fairly easy to get started up with. You'll need to download it's accompanying app RevolVR control app. This is followed by connecting to the Bluetooth, and then calibrating the accessory from within RevolVR Control Panel. It's available for desktop VR as well, although that will require an extra accessory to work.
How does it work?
RevolVR is meant to be used with shooting games, so you're going to hold the "gun" handle up as though you were taking aim at something in front of you. How does it work? A bright light on the back of the controller is picked up by the camera on your phone, and that works in combination with accelerators and your Bluetooth connection to track the movement of the controller in space in front of the phone. This is why you need to calibrate it before you jump into any RevolVR compatible app.
They've got a handful of demo games available now, for anyone with an beta controller. This isn't HTC Vive good by any stretch, but the ability to track your controller motion adds a fun level of immersion. You just need to make sure that your camera can properly see the controller, or it won't track nearly as well. It will certainly still try, but it's clear the camera on your phone is a big part of the tracking.
This also means that the RevolVR controller needs to stay fairly close to the camera on your phone. While this won't be an issue for everybody, finding a comfortable grip and distance are both important. When testing several of their demo games, we found the controls good enough to get the job done but a little jarring when the things stopped working. This is all still in very early development, but the added immersion is totally worth it. You run around and use your gun to shoot zombies and help various civilians in need. While the whole things absolutely feels unfinished, RevolVR shows great promise.
Is it awesome?
It sure as hell is. We tried out the zombie game that they have available, and being able to point and squeeze the trigger made a serious difference. Between the immersion offered by the headset, the accompanying audio, and being able to point and shoot with a gun-like controller everything seem more fluid and real. Aiming is an occasional challenge, but it's clear RevolVR is going to offer something incredible to so many VR users.
We would love to see where this accessory goes because it has a lot of promise, and delivered a fun experience that was pretty user friendly. You can check out the RevolVR website for more!