HTC Vive, Logitech Bridge Let You Take The Tactile Keyboard Experience To Virtual Reality
Logitech and HTC are teaming up to create an accessory for the Vive that allows you to type on a real keyboard and see it simultaneously in virtual reality, including your hands and fingers.
Aptly called the Logitech Bridge, the hardware and software kit is designed with developers in mind, bringing to the table an efficient way to input text while working on apps and games.
Bridging The Gap Between Real-Life And VR
The package is made up of a Logitech G gaming keyboard, a component that allows the Vive Tracker to be in perfect position to monitor the user's typing and hand movements and replicate them in VR, and the Bridge SDK. Needless to say, a Vive VR headset is a must for the system to do its magic, as well as a Vive Tracker.
The best part is, the virtual keyboard is fully customizable to be tailored to your needs. Bigger or different fonts on the keys, changing the colors to your preference and perhaps for optimal visibility, and even mix in some buttons that can replace hotkeys, complete with overlaying labels.
On top of that, it's compatible with any SteamVR software.
Why Go With A VR Keyboard?
Typically, users get around VR with motion controls and even gaming controllers, but none of them are particularly effective in getting typing jobs done.
Sure, you can simply touch type — as if there were a ton of other choices in using a physical keyboard for VR. But that can turn into quite a problem when you lift up your hands presumably to do something else and need to find the right position again without actually seeing the keyboard, despite the helpful bumps on the F and J keys.
"Our motivation comes from the research-backed understanding that in certain situations the user still needs a keyboard to interact with applications, particularly in productivity-driven or desktop scenarios, but also in games, social applications and content browsing," Vincent Tucker, Innovations and Strategy director at Logitech, writes.
However, Logitech is releasing only 50 Bridge kits to start, and it's available only to U.S. developers for now. In case you're interested, you can submit an application to join the action, but the company is accepting them only until Nov. 16.
Now what's arguably worse than the limited availability is that it's a little pricey. It's going to hold back customers by $150 for the package, but that's aside from the $99 Vive Tracker and $599 Vive headset. More than that, you're stuck with the provided Logitech G keyboard because the accessory that connects the Vive Tracker to it likely won't fit with others.