2016 January 5

3dRudder Lets You Walk in Virtual Reality While Sitting

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If you’re experiencing a game with your eyes, you should walk in it with your feet. That’s the philosophy behind 3dRudder, a company that brought its motion controller to CES for the second year in a row. The controller lets you use your feet to navigate 3D spaces, supports the Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset and is set to go on sale in March for $175.

The 3dRudder is a disk-shaped motion controller that rests on the floor and is meant to be used while sitting. I saw a few colors, including red, green and leopard striped (the company says the colors will be user replaceable). It looks a bit like a bathroom scale. Sensors on the top of the controller show you where to place your feet.

After calibrating by removing my feet and then keeping them still on the controller, I slipped on an Oculus Rift DK2 developer kit and moved through 3D space. I could strafe by putting weight on the sides, move forward or backward with my heels and toes and turn it around its center axis to turn around. With combinations of my heels and toes, I was able to lift myself into the air and fly as well as drift back down to earth.

I tried the 3dRudder in a custom level with a number of walls, structures and billboards. I was awed as I soared through with ease after just a few minutes with the controller, and amazed when I looked up at the starry sky while flying. I immediately imagined playing first-person platformers like Mirror’s Edge with this controller in the future. Only jumping and falling, which required unnatural uses of my feet, felt strange.

This all left my hands free to do other things. The 3dRudder could pair nicely with the Oculus Touch controllers coming later this year, which will let you use your hands individually in 3D space. In addition, this controller let me move freely using my legs but wouldn’t be limited by the size of the room.

3dRudder connects to computers with a simple USB connection and should be compatible with anything that runs Unity.

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