Logitech is announcing a pilot version of its Logitech VR Ink, which lets enterprise creators use a stylus in virtual reality. Not only does it let you write in two dimensions, like drawing on a piece of paper on a table in VR. You draw three-dimensional images in a VR space.
Logitech, one of the world’s biggest computer peripheral makers, is showing the tech off this week at the Augmented World Expo, the AR and mixed reality event in Santa Clara, California.
“We started looking at the problems in virtual reality from a Logitech perspective,” said Vadim Kogan, head of partnerships and business development for AR/VR for mixed reality at Logitech, in an interview with VentureBeat. “We found that lots of enterprises have started to use virtual reality in productivity and creativity. But today the controllers for VR were created for the gaming industry. The way you interact in VR is the same way, as the controllers were designed by gamers for gamers. We thought this was where Logitech could add a lot of value.”
Logitech began to explore interactions and came up with a stylus.
“The stylus is the most natural way and simple way to interact in VR,” Kogan said. “It is a first-generation product to stimulate the market and allow enterprises to see there is hope on the horizon.”
For creators, the stylus represents precise and skillful control, or muscle memory, Kogan said.
“Most creators were trained in school and universities how to draw on with a pencil and paper,” he said. “And today, you are able to do the same thing in virtual reality. It’s simple, natural, an extension of your hand. Everybody knows how to write and how to hold it.”
I watched a software engineer start drawing a frame of a car around the skeletal body of a car. He added lines that showed how the vehicle would look with a body around the frame. And then he rotated it in 3D to draw on another side of the car.
Then I picked up the stylus and donned an HTC Vive VR headset. It the version with the external sensors, which can figure out which way the stylus is pointing in any given time. I started drawing in 2D at first and switched to 3D using by pressing a button on the stylus. I could change the size of the brush on the fly.
“Today’s creative pioneers — the modern Rubens and Rodins, Brunels and Bugattis — are already out there,” said Denis O’Keeffe, director of virtual reality programs at Logitech, in a statement. “All they need is new canvas and clay, pencils, paints and studios — new creative tools adapted to a world of true 3D. Logitech VR Ink Pilot Edition is a first step in unleashing creativity in this 3D space, set to stimulate the VR ecosystem. We’re sharing it ahead of availability with enterprise pioneers and partners in the 3D world — such as HTC, Sector 5 and Vector Suite — in order to perfect the experience and shape, with them, the future of creativity.”
“The right VR solution will change the world as we know it,” said Jeff Meisner, CEO of award-winning design studio Sector 5 Digital, in a statement. “We are leveraging the immersive properties of VR on HTC’s Vive system to conceptualize, design, review and revise new urban mobility vehicles with clients like Bell. We have already cut the production cycle of a full-scale mockup aircraft down from several years to less than six months. The moment we started designing with Logitech VR Ink inside the Vector Suite application, we realized this tool not only speeds up our designers working in VR, but revolutionizes the way we design. Welcome to Logitech’s VR stylus.”
Logitech is partnering with the virtual reality community to craft the tools that will enable creativity in true 3D: creative pioneers, app developers, platforms, channel and industry partners. Logitech wants to partner with people in companies pushing boundaries in the VR space.
Logitech will have a limited number of VR Ink Pilot Edition styluses for sale and for use-case exploration with select partners. Preorders will come later and the product is expected to be available later this year.
Right now, it only works with Steam VR tracking and the HTC Vive. Logitech will work with creativity software companies to integrate the Logitech VR Ink technology into their software so that it can work with various 3D models and other things. It is already integrated into Google Tilt Brush, a VR art program.
“VR is used in the enterprise for visualization,” Kogan said. “What we want is to see people be creative in VR. We never want you to put this down.”