Written by Micah Blumberg March 4 2016 : Samsung Senior Engineer Yongjin Cho and his 5 other team members have been developing Rink motion controllers since about June 2015, that is when the real engineering began, although the project was originally conceived of by Yongjin Cho in March of 2015.
You put the base on top of the headset and wear each of the two controllers, one on each of your palms.
Rink works by combining two technologies, IR and Bluetooth LTE, the first for finger tracking, the second for detecting your hand position, both technologies are used for gesture tracking.
The base station that sits on top of the Gear VR is just a magnetic field generator and it does not actually connect to the Gear VR itself, only the controllers connect to the Gear VR.
The Rink controllers also have IR LED Sensors that fire at your fingers to capture your finger motion. Aside from Motion Leap I haven’t seen another VR hand tracking product that has this all finger tracking feature.
The magnetic field emitting unit that you wear on top of your Gear VR allows for full360 degree hand tracking.
This means you can grip a virtual object and let it go even when you are not looking at your hands, something you can’t do with a Motion Leap.
It would be better for your fingers to type your novel in VR, than on your macbook or pc. I could type long paragraphs with it, and instead of a mouse I could literally point to anything I wanted to click on.
The Samsung Rink does not feature any position tracking technology so you can’t lean forward in a VR app for example, but the developer confirmed that they may incorporate some sort of position tracking in a future version of the Rink.
So what is it like to use? I can tell you that the base station does not make the Gear VR feel any heavier. It looks bulky but it’s not uncomfortable to wear.
I’m told however that the flaws I noticed, in the speed of the tracking, when I moved my hands really fast, will be fixed with an upcoming version of Rink.
While the current incarnation of hand tracking is a little bit slow when compared to the Vive, the developer promises that they are hard at work optimizing the algorithm for speed.
If Samsung HQ is listening please give this team of yours a larger budget to hire more engineers to finish this product, increase the tracking speed, fix any connection issues, and bring it to market. They still have to get approval first from higher up within Samsung to bring the RINK concept to the Gear VR market.
I was and I still am so excited to see and use the Samsung Rink concept for Gear VR. Despite the minor flaws in the current tracking speed these controllers are must have item that could be extremely useful to own for the Gear VR.
Rink’s motion controllers make virtual reality on Samsung’s Gear VR much more immersive but the Rink is not yet a consumer product. It is more like in the Alpha stage of development or Pre-Beta stage. Samsung calls it a concept, and what an amazing concept it is. It is accurate and fun to use, and it would add so much to the Gear VR even in its current stage of development.
The first time I tried motion controllers was with the HTC Vive. That is when I knew that motion controllers are essential to real VR immersion. We need our hands in VR to have real VR, and that is why the Rink is important.
About the author:
Micah is a researcher, entrepreneur, and journalist who covers virtual reality, cognitive science, biology, and AI.
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