Foldaway Haptics is Making a Thumbstick for VR virtual reality That Pushes Back

Foldaway Haptics is Making a Thumbstick for VR virtual reality That Pushes Back

Switzerland-based Foldaway Haptics is building a haptic joystick with force feedback. The impressive device, which can push back against your finger in any direction, could bring rich feedback to virtual reality software programs controllers at reasonable costs.

Over the years we’ve seen some really awesome haptic tech, like the HaptX glove that offers compelling tactile sensations and force-feedback on all five fingers. But it’ll take something simple and low cost to have any chance of finding its way into the consumer VR space which is currently dominated by controllers—which are rapidly converging on thumbsticks as the primary input mechanism (aside from motion).

That makes Foldaway Haptics’ solution quite interesting. The company is building what’s effectively a tiny three legged platform than can move and tilt in any direction. They’re adapting the mechanism to function as a joystick which offers force-feedback. At CES 2019 this week the company showed off a prototype VR development software controller with the mechanism built-in.

I tried the prototype running with a Vive headset and a small demo game that Foldaway built. In the game I saw a miniature cartoon farm in front of me at waist height; a few different animals were running around on the ground. When I reached out to grab an animal, I pushed down on the thumbstick to ‘grip’ the animal between my hand and my thumb. Upon grabbing the animal, the thumbstick became stiff (letting me know that I had successful grabbed something). Read more 

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