VRGO, a new virtual reality (VR) chair which offers a unique way to control your VR experiences, is running a fund-raising campaign on Kickstarter – and there are only 7 days left to invest. The chair, which lets you control your movement in virtual worlds by leaning on the chair in the direction you want to go, helps combat the feeling of nausea caused by the disconnect between what your eyes are seeing and the movements you make on a traditional hand-based VR controller.
With 153 backers clearly convinced by the concept and willing to put their money behind it to the tune of over £19,500, we caught up with Joe Ryan, creator of VRGO at the Pervasive Media Studio to find out more about his innovative invention.
Edge of your seat design
Joe came up with the idea after seeing a design for an active posture chair: “I was doing a part time furniture course at Bristol City College when I came up with a yoga ball/Weeble chair and made a prototype. My day job was working in the games industry so I had a lot of experience with games and technology and the idea for a motion controller came out of the blue.”
After further development Joe realised a chair controller could help solve one of the biggest problems in VR – that of more realistic, non-nausea-inducing movement in the virtual world. VRGO’s tilt-based movement system, where the more you tilt the faster you go, allows users to stay engaged longer while still feeling present within VR and maintaining natural movement. It also allows your hands to be freed up, so they can become part of the virtual world.
You can see the chair being put through its paces below:
Joe’s solution to VR control is gaining momentum already: “We have sold a number of chairs to agencies who have been using them for public VR experiences. Because the device is hands free it means anyone can roam around virtual spaces without the need to know how to use joypad controllers.”
The VR chair in the real world
Joe has been testing the VRGO at various tech events, and has had a very pleasing reaction for those who have tried it: “Venturefest and SWVR was the first time we showed the chair to the public and the response was great,” says Joe.
Venturefest VR: TechSPARK assistant editor Alice tries an early
prototype of the VRGO at the SWVR virtual reality conference
“There was a lot of development to be done at that stage as we were still using a mobile phone which was strapped to the base of the chair,” he adds. “Now that we have the final prototype available we have started taking the chair to other events around the country including AppsWorld in London and VRTGO in Newcastle. So far the response has been fantastic.”
VRGO also got the chance to go further afield: “Another success was having the opportunity to go to New Zealand to talk about our sensor technology. We built a relationship with Auckland University of Technology and they are building a game specifically for the VRGO chair.”
“Bristol is a great place to be a startup as there is a strong support network for entrepreneurs, especially within technology”
Joe is based at the Pervasive Media Studio at The Watershed in Bristol and feels it has really helped him when developing the VRGO: “I feel very lucky to be working out of such an exciting, creative space. The ethos of sharing ideas with other studio members has helped focus the project. There is a history of successful hardware products that have come out of the studio and hope the VRGO can one day claim that accolade also.”
Having a go on the VRGO: TechSPARK contributor Shona
Wright explores a virtual world at the Pervasive Media Studio
He also has a lot of time for Bristol as a whole: “Bristol is a great place to be a startup as there is a strong support network for entrepreneurs, especially within technology. The size of the city makes it big enough to draw international attention while being small enough to find the right people to work with.”
What’s more, if he reaches his funding total he hopes to keep the production of the VRGO chair and its sensors local: “We have already built moulds for the chair with the help of an innovation voucher so are ready to manufacturing here in Bristol.”
We’d like to thank Joe for taking out time to demonstrate the VRGO to us. To see more or invest check out the VRGO Kickstarter campaign (but hurry – there’s only a week left), the VRGO website or by following them on Twitter: @vrgochair