NASA have been enthusiastic about testing virtual reality (VR) and related technologies with the NASA Virtual Reality Laboratory (VRLab) trialling innovative ways to train future astronauts. NASA are now testing the TENZR gesture control system as a hands-free controller as part of VR astronaut training.
The TENZR strap is produced by BIT Technologies. Resembling a commercial smartwatch and weighing only 45 grams, the aim of the TENZR strap is to free the user’s hands from button-based controllers, and allow for intuitive use with minimal need for training. Bulky objects such as the controllers currently commonly used to control VR experiences are not practical for zero gravity, so another solution needed to be found.
“We are very excited that our TENZR(tm) prototypes at NASA’s VRLab could change the way astronauts interact with the virtual space environment! Great strides are being made in the fields of Human Computer Interaction, and Natural Control. We believe that our natural, hands-free gesture recognition technology will take the field forward and will complement existing technologies like voice recognition and camera-based systems,” said BIT Technologies CEO, Lukas-Karim Merhi.
The custom sensors embedded in the TENZR wrist-strap allow it to detect hand gestures which can be used to control VR experiences. BIT Technologies has previously used similar technologies for home automation and healthcare to allow users to control home appliances such as light or thermostat using gestures.
The TENZR strap is Unity 3D compatible, meaning it has simple plug and play compatibility with most VR platforms that also support Unity 3D. Further information on the TENZR strap can be found at the BIT Website.
VRFocus will bring you further information on the TENZR strap and NASA’s VR projects as it becomes available.