There’s no argument that virtual reality (VR) can be highly immersive with just a head-mounted display (HMD), some motion controllers and headphones. But this is only the start, with companies looking at making the tech even more engaging. Enter Weasel Labs and its new Kickstarter crowd funding campaign for a fan add-on called ZephVR.
ZephVR is a unique accessory that attaches to popular headsets like HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and PlayStation VR, automatically adding wind to any videogame. Weasel Labs has achieved this using machine learning, with the accessory recognising events in a title’s audio track, activating the two fans just at the right moment. So for example, whenever a player flies, falls or accelerates they’ll actually feel it.
“The ZephVR transforms any VR experience into a multi-sensory, physically immersive adventure,” said Sean Spielberg, the company’s cofounder and CEO. “Wind is one of the most critical elements in turning a game into a reality. Until now, experiences that incorporate wind have only been available at theme parks and exhibitions.”
The accessory is the brainchild of Paige Pruitt, cofounder and CTO, Weasel Labs, after putting her head in front of a window fan whilst using PlayStation VR. “It felt so real, and I couldn’t stop giggling,” she said. “I immediately started thinking about recreating moments like this for other games.”
The campaign has launched today, seeking to raise $30,000 USD and at the time of writing has already achieved just under $25,000. While backing tiers start from $5, to secure a ZephVR unit you’ll need to pledge a minimum of $49 for the early bird offer that’s compatible with Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. The PlayStation VR version costs a little more at $79.
“We think the ZephVR is a natural addition to virtual reality, just like the Rumble Pak was for the Nintendo 64,” Spielberg adds. “But wind is just the beginning. Longer-term, our technology could enable all sorts of peripherals and physical effects—temperature, vibration, rain, or anything else people can think up—so that they work with all VR content, automatically.”
As the campaign continues, VRFocus will keep you informed on the latest updates.