PowerClaw: buttons and feel with the virtual reality gloves

Whoever compares a VR roller coaster ride with a real ride will realize that the experience simply does not look real. There are simply too many sensory impressions: The wind, the vibrations, the shouting of the other passengers – real roller coaster ride simply does not come with VR glasses sitting in the chair. Who then but on the roller coaster simulator of Samsung sat (about here at the Gamescom), will notice how fast a VR experience can come frightfully real.

The PowerClaw is supposed to tickle the nerves in a different place and expand the virtual world of experience around sensory impressions: On the hands. Two gloves should simulate cold, heat and five different surfaces. For this purpose, small metal “fingerhooks” are installed in the glove on each fingertip, which can vibrate with mini motors. Heat filaments and Peltier elements are responsible for the heat and cold. Above all the heat differences are very noticeable.

Cool, these effects are especially for games in unusual environments: say, say Edge of Nowhere, where the player moves through an arctic landscape, or Alice VR, in which some of the desert levels can be completed. Even very fast changes in temperature will overcome the glove. Imagine a hot kitchen in which you enter the freezer.


Cool, but still not perfect

Slightly less convincing are the surfaces you should feel: with a metallic surface, just the Rumble engines vibrate a bit. If I had not been told that it was a metallic surface, I would not have known it.

In addition to the gloves, a box is necessary, which converts the input signals via USB into the corresponding currents for the individual components of the gloves. The box needs normal sockets electricity. Ergo: To the cable of the VR glasses comes also a power cable as well as a USB cable for the gloves.

Another problem of the PowerClaw are the objects called Finger Fingers, which are responsible for the feelings. Not only do they weigh a few grams, but they also make the hand imperceptible for all other touches. You do not feel right what you hold in your hands. If you would like to use the PowerClaw with the Oculus controllers, this is probably still acceptable. With the Vive controllers, however, another deadly design flaw is added: the PowerClaw’s fingertip does not allow electricity to flow outwards, the touch input signal on the touchpad is not detected. An operation is therefore only possible once the glove has been pulled out. What a pity!

With the help of SDK, developers can integrate the functions of the glove into the game. Thus, theoretically, each VR title can convey heat and cold in the game to the gamer. Whether the developers of the PowerClaw also proactively implement is not known.

Also price is the product – stand now – unfortunately not really convincing. Currently, the project is running on Indiegogo, the company Vivoxie wants to achieve for the realization of the PowerClaw at least 55,000 dollars. For 445 dollars you get a glove and the necessary box for the conversion USB -> Gloves. For $ 595 there are two PowerClaws. So far, only about 2% of the required amount has been secured. And unfortunately I have to say at this point: Wait a little longer. The purchase is not worthwhile just yet, even if it is a really cool Techdemo. Perhaps the product would be better at the Oculus or the HTC research team better than in “free wild”.




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