A staple I do in all interviews in order to start things off is to ask that you elaborate a bit about your device (s) that people might not know?
Stan: The 3dRudder is a foot-powered VR motion controller, used while seated. By letting users move in VR games with their feet, it frees their hands to shoot, grab, pull… The 3dRudder is made of a round board with a tilting bottom. The user seats, relaxes and rests his feet on the 3dRudder. By tilting the device forward, he moves forward in the game. You can move forward/backward, strafe right or left, turn right or left. You can also move up or down by pressing with opposite hill-toe on the board. All those movements can be combines together and are progressive - the more you tilt, the faster you go -. Our device is surprisingly intuitive: it takes a few seconds to master it.
What were some of the key goals when initially developing the device and how have those changed with this latest version?
Stan: Originally we developed the 3dRudder for computer-aided design. In CAD, users spend about 60-65% of their time moving their digital model, and 30-35% actually working on it. Having to consistently switch between moving and doing is tiresome and stressful. Moving the movement to the feet re-establish frees the hands to do. CAD engineers and architects are more productive and feel more relaxed at the end of the day.
We went to our first CES in January 2015 with a proof of concept and left with an award from Tom’s Hardware for best virtual reality peripheral. What’s amazing is we had not even showed a VR demo! From there on we focused on VR that proved to be 3dRudder’s sweet spot.
Could you briefly elaborate on some of the key new features of the Blackhawk?
Stan: The 3dRudder Blackhawk brings some key benefits to the original 3dRudder. It addresses an issue some of our first users complained about, that their feet were slipping on the device. By adding “wings” to the device, we actually let them position their feet naturally on the device, and never lose touch with it.
We also work on the device sensitivity by adding an active dead zone feature. Basically, the more you move in a game, the more rapid your movements are, the smaller the dead zone will be. The objective is to provide for more stability in situations where the user doesn’t need quick reaction.
Aside from being able to generally walk, what sort of options for movement does the device provide in games?
Stan: The 3dRudder offers 3 types of locomotion. You can walk or run by using horizontal movements: forward/backward, strafe right or left, turn right or left. The more you tilt, the faster you go.
You can also use the 3dRudder as if you were a helicopter. It’s useful in games where you have a god mod (ex. Skyworld VR), in games where you swim (ex. The Blu)… It’s also great for spectating games like in CS: GO or Dota 2. It’s achieved by adding up/down to the horizontal movements.
Finally, you can also use the 3dRudder in flight sims by using it to control the altitude of a plane or space shift (Ex. Elite Dangerous…).
Which genres do you feel the Blackhawk really excels with and are there any others you’d like to see it applied to?
Stan: Our view is that VR requires new controllers and that motion is to be handled at the feet, simply because the users want to have their hands free to use them like in real life.
Our second conviction is that users will be seated. Most of the people who try the 3dRudder are surprised by how easy it is to use and how natural it feels. They never question being seated afterwards. You can play an FPS with the 3dRudder, you’ll love it.
Finally, we believe that VR will go beyond VR for entertainment. Visiting remote locations, exploring worlds from the past or the future, from the comfort of your couch with the 3dRudder at your feet make such great sense.
What are some of the core games that support Blackhawk and do you have any personal favorites that you best believe showcase what it can do?
Stan: My favorite is Doom VFR. The game takes a new dimension with the 3dRudder. It is better that without it, just because you have weapons in both your hands while you move smoothly around.
Lastly I would like to leave a spot for you to say something or go over anything I might have missed during the interview?
Stan: Let your feet be surprised by the 3dRudder. You may find the idea weird. You may be skeptical about using your feet to move in games or in VR. Just give it a try, you’ll love it.
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