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Tracked VR Controller

Virtual Reality Hardware Development

Black Box VR developed a fully immersive virtual reality gym experience and hired SGW Designworks to develop the system hardware. While the huge load resistance system represented a monumental hardware development and engineering effort, a smaller system peripheral also posed unique challenges. For the overall system to operate correctly, the location of the user’s hands needed to be constantly tracked in 3D space by the VR system. While the existing HTC Vive controllers already provided real-time spacial tracking, they were not a fit for this use-case: the user would be gripping the system weight handles with both hands.

Redesigning a Solution

A new device would be needed as a small, but critical part of the larger system. The device was called “Smart Hands” and would need to be a wearable controller that keeps the user’s hands-free while being tracked in VR. The system was to be designed around the HTC Vive VR platform.

Hardware Development Approach

Whenever possible, our team applies existing designs and components to solve design problems. This increases development speed and reduces prototype costs. In this case, we started with the opensource PCBA (circuit board) design from Steam and fully reconfigured it to fit in the Smart Hands.  While the SGW Designworks embedded systems group was working on that, two mechanical engineers were starting to devise possible enclosure configurations, and collaborating on aesthetics with the client. Next, the electronics and shape work were integrated into the preliminary design, which served as the basis for initial physical prototypes. Three engineers focused on design iteration and rapid prototype cycles, leading to a design suitable for external use.

Outcome

Late-stage prototypes were built and used in the BlackBox VR system showcased at CES 2018. The system worked so well that Black Box was recognized with a CES Innovation Award, and by Engadget.com as the best startup of CES 2018.

By engaging SGW Designworks, BlackBox VR was able to make rapid development progress, and generate valuable PR at one of the world’s most important trade shows for consumer electronics – all without the risk of hiring a full internal engineering staff.

Services

  • Device Development
  • Prototype
  • Manufacturing Planning
  • Hardware Testing
  • User Interface Design
  • Cost Optimization
  • Design Iterations