Reality proper rarely comes into play in most of the best uses of virtual technology; for the most part it’s been about slapping on the headsets, putting the controllers in hand, and blocking out the real world.
But the team at Silicon Valley’s 219 Design want to change that. With the help of 3D printing and open-source electronics hardware, they’ve made a robot arm they can control through an app using the HTC Vive virtual reality headset.
The robotic arm doesn’t mimic the movements of the user’s arms. Instead, controlling it appears more like shaking hands with it in virtual reality.
With the Vive’s controllers, users grab the robot’s end effector through virtual reality as though it were a handle and maneuver it as they wish.
In the real world, the robotic arm mimics the exact same motions.