Hardware Development – A New Wearable VR Controller
Black Box VR is developing a fully immersive virtual reality gym experience and hired SGW Designworks to develop multiple hardware elements of the system. The Smart Hands device is a wearable controller, tracked in VR (HTC Vive system, Steam VR), and allows the system to ‘know’ where the user’s arms are located in space. The project involved a full redesign of existing HTC Vive controller PCBA’s, full mechanical design, multiple prototype iterations, and iterative development of sensor placement and orientation to achieve reliable tracking in VR. Design iteration focused on the placement of IR sensors to achieve exceptional tracking in VR, as well as form factor optimization and wearability.
Redesigning the Controller
This project started with a redesign and reconfiguration of the existing HTC Vive controller circuitry. 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. Later stages will focus on cost optimization and integration of design changes based on external testing.
By engaging SGW Designworks, BlackBox VR was able to make rapid development progress, without the risk of hiring a full internal engineering staff. SGW Designworks is able to grow and shrink the development team as needed based on project needs.