“The experience of working in a mixed and virtual reality becomes much more real due to usage of soft gloves instead of regular VR-controllers. Controlling the MR- or VR- world is manual”, according to Bob Vlemmix, founder and Director Business Development of Manus VR.
Bob, how would you briefly describe Manus VR?
“Our gloves are connected to existing VR-systems so you can control the virtual world manually.”
What happens if you put on the gloves?
“You’re capable of using virtual reality in a natural and intuitive way. As soon as you’re wearing the gloves, you’ll see them presented in VR and you’re able to have an interaction with your surroundings. Therefore, Manus VR has a broad applicability.”
How does it work exactly?
“The gloves work in combination with the VR-headsets like the Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive. Normally, these are run through controllers with buttons. These controllers enable you to maneuver in VR and to carry out actions. However, because of the use of that controller, it doesn’t feel natural. When wearing Manus VR, your VR experience will be more realistic and effective. Sensors in the gloves detect finger movements and transform this into a presentation in het virtual world.”
Who are your customers?
“We focus on the business market. We view a strong demand grow within different industries. NASA, MIT, Cambridge University and Audi already use Manus VR. Therefore, for the present time we mainly focus on the business market.”
So, the consumer market isn’t attractive? Isn’t this something that will make gamers go bananas?
“It is true, the gaming-market is huge, but there is still little demand for VR-control. Some say, within the next two years the market will be more attractive and accessible. However, others think that development can still take five to ten years. Of course, it would be fantastic if Manus VR turns out to be mainstream among gamers, but for now, this isn’t our primary goal.”
How did you come up with the idea?
“When I was at the end of my communication study, I knew I didn’t want to work for a manager. In that period, with a successful Kickstarter-campaign of the Oculus Rift, VR came up. As a result, new companies appeared, producing additional products like treadmills and controllers.”
So, what did you do?
“I saw no one else did anything with hand motion in VR. I considered this as a gap in the market. Together with Stephen van den Brink and Maarten Witteveen, two friends who were just as enthusiastic as I was, we started up the business. Nowadays, after three years already, we’ve got sixteen employees.”
What kind of characteristics does your product have?
“Our product is designed in such way, usage feels natural, it’s just like you’re running VR with your own hands. The gloves are very comfortable and totally water-resistant. They can be hand-washed. The fingertips are uncovered which enables you to touch real physical objects in the real world when using Mixed Reality. Picture this as the experience of feeling the wind blowing with your fingertips.”
What are technical specification of the Manus VR?
“Every finger has two sensors that detect movements. The thumb has an extra sensor which captures rotation. In that orientation of the hand monitors, a gyroscope, accelerometer and magnetometer are present. The gloves are completely wireless, batteries keep them working for three to six hours.”
Can you name some example of projects that work with Manus VR?
“Automotive-customers use Manus VR to be faster in ‘prototyping’. They no longer have to produce prototypes, which saves a lot of time and money. They create a model in VR, this model can be viewed and adjusted by everyone involved and with VR-headset.”
“Manus VR is an adequate tool for training purposes. For example, when you want to teach someone in Morocco on how to use and control a product. Think about the cost savings when a trainer and trainee use a VR-headset and gloves on their own location, following instructions and interaction in VR. This also works with bigger groups.”
What is the price of a glove?
“We offer our product as the Manus VR-developmentkit: to gloves with accessorizes. The starting price is a thousand euros. This set can be extended by a software package of Unity 5, Unreal engine and Mocap Motionbuilder. Additionally, our customers can purchase technical support.”
Which opportunities does Manus VR offer to marketers?
“It gives them the opportunity to display new experiences. Related to that, Škoda used our gloves during the IAA, the Frankfurt Motor Show, to preset a new car model: the Škoda Vision E. Visitors of this car event could sit down and take a test-drive in the new model on a circuit by using the VR- headset and Manus VR gloves.”
Manus VR @ Skoda
What about the competition?
“In our market, there is not much competition. Currently, even though businesses are focusing on VR processes, there are no gloves available, which can do the same thing as Manus VR. Manus VR can complement lots of systems like HTC Vive, Xsens, Vicon, PhaseSpace and OptiTrack, which gives us an unique position in the market. Controllers who can run a VR-headset are certainly indirect competitors, but the question remains whether these competitors can provide users with the same preferred VR-experience.”
Now, what is on the agenda?
“We work hard on the further development of the development kit. We want to go the next level. In response to conversations with customers we’re looking at improvements in durability, usability and firmness. Ultimately, to better meet the users’ needs.”
Where do you want to be in five years?
“We want to be the standard in VR-hand interaction, so we’ll be standing next to HTC Vive and Oculus Rift in five years. Generating growth in particular, which is rapid already. If we maintain our current speed, the future will be positive.”