VR: Is Touch Simulation A Gimmicky Niche Offering?


Virtual reality still very much seems like a fluid market even though it's continually growing and expanding into a number of areas. Games by far have taken the VR world by storm and have run with the technology as fast as the industry possibly could, pumping out more and more games of all genres to appeal to the massive market of gamers, and it's the gaming industry which seemingly stands to benefit the most from things like the Hapto Glove, a recently announced VR glove that has made its way to a funding campaign in hopes of reaching its goal and becoming available to all who are interested. It essentially makes it possible to simulate the sense of touch of virtual objects, thus allowing for a more immersive experience, at least in theory. But is touch simulation of virtual objects just a gimmicky niche product or something more?

Right now the product is on indiegogo so it might be a little challenging to answer that question until at least a small number of consumers with compatible VR headsets have had the opportunity to test out the Hapto glove for themselves, and see how well it works to enhance the immersion, but at the very least it's possible to ponder the notion of whether or not this is something which a majority of VR headset consumers would be interested in checking out.

What might dictate that is the nature of cost. Because VR is still technically a new technology in the consumer space from a mainstream standpoint, the technology is still mostly expensive, save for a few big-name offerings like Gear VR and Daydream View. To get into anything a little more substantial though you're looking at a sizable investment of hundreds and hundreds of dollars, and that doesn't even include the money it will cost to pick up the system hardware you'll need to support those more expensive headsets. Therein lies the potential issue with the Hapto glove, and potentially any other future products that may look to offer a similar type of experience. The Hapto Glove's suggested retail price according to its indiegogo listing is about $500 (though it can be had for much less if you support the funding and are able to grab some of the early bird packages), yet the headsets that you can see in the marketing videos are units like the Gear VR, a headset which costs just $79.


Granted, the argument could be made that because the consumer is saving so much money on the headset, they might be willing to spend a nice chunk of cash on something like the Hapto Glove. Then again, that also seems much less likely as the Gear VR and the Gear VR controller can be had for $129, and while this wouldn't present the user with a touch simulation experience it's considerably more affordable and offers everything you need to immerse yourself in VR and control the content. The Hapto Glove is compatible with high-end headsets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, too, and soon enough it'll support HoloLens and PlayStation VR, but these are all headsets that cost at least $300 or more, then you have to get the system to support the headset which is at least another $300 if you're looking at the PS4, and at least $800-$1,000 if you're looking at a bare minimum PC experience for the Rift or Vive headsets. Throwing in another $500 for the Hapto Glove quickly makes this a very expensive VR purchase. There's also the issue of the lack of supported game content, which is likely to grow along with development, but if the content ends up not being there when the glove is ready to launch by the estimated time frame of March 2018, then the Hapto Glove becomes very expensive odd looking regular glove.

Hapto Glove's Supported Games

So is touch simulation for virtual reality a gimmicky niche offering? At this point it's hart to tell, though it might be more of a niche than a gimmick, as products like the Hapto Glove seem to have very real benefits that will add points to the cool factor of your VR content consumption, albeit at a high price. If the cost comes down, then products like the Hapto Glove could carve out a nice standing in the VR market, but at the current estimated price it's unlikely to turn the majority of VR headset owners into serious buyers, save for those who feel money is no object and have expendable income.