Virtual reality is still too ‘virtual’ but Sixense’s goal is to change all that. The new Stem System uses a tracking system which follows body parts (up to 5) or peripherals, using sensors that which can be exchanged between them. Sixense aims to start shipping this product in July of this year, along with a controller that has been designed with the new system in mind.
The Stem Controllers work in twos. There is a pair for each hand which allows the system to track the movement of each of your arms independently. The system works amazingly well. In Portal 2, you are able to stretch your arms, twirl them, and toss objects.
The controllers rely on normal gaming conventions: joystick, triggers and A, B, X and Y buttons so that you can perform certain functions. Obviously, Virtual Reality games haven’t been perfected yet. You still must use the joystick in order to turn your body instead of being able to spin your literal body in the direction you want and it translating on screen. However, this is not the fault with Sixense. The Oculus Rift is anchored into place and prevents you from being able to spin (the Oculus Rift is an upcoming virtual reality head-mounted display. It is being developed by Oculus VR, who have raised US$91 million, of which $2.4 million was raised with crowdfunding via Kickstarter). For true gamers, it is another reason to avoid fully buying into the Virtual Reality world.
However, The Stem Controllers are still enjoyable to use and are far better than using a traditional controller with a VR headset. Sixense says that you should be able to use any game with its controllers, though games which have been modified to work with it will achieve the best results.
Sixense also plans on launching 3D-modeling software, called MakeVR, which has been designed specifically for their controllers. It isn’t meant to replace professional modelling software but rather its meant for entertainment use. Even children should quickly be able to pick up the program and start building robots or customising iPhone covers.
MakeVR will go through Kickstarter before it launches, though Sixense says its solely for getting consumer feedback — The program will be made no matter what the result. The Stem System will begin shipping to backers in July. There’s even a potential future for Sixense’s motion trackers: fake accessories like swords, guns or straps for them to be attached elsewhere on gamers’ bodies.
There isn’t a perfect VR controller yet, but playing in VR is becoming closer to a complete experience.