Enflux's Smart Clothing Lets the VR User Control Their Avatar Just by Moving
Everyone's trying to figure out the best way to interact with virtual environments now that so many amazing virtual, augmented, and mixed reality headsets are creating new worlds for us to explore. Even with complex controllers and simple gestures, you can quickly see the advantage of using your body to control the virtual universe.
Enflux, who we ran into over at GX4 2016 in Santa Clara this past weekend, took the kind of moisture-wicking material you'll find in running or yoga clothing and hid 10 tiny sensors inside. Compared to the popular and impressive—but nevertheless cumbersome—Perception Neuron suit, the outfit feels superbly minimal. Aside from the on and off switch around the chest that's only noticeable enough to easily locate, the electronics are practically imperceptible.
You put on the shirt (and pants, depending on the application) and turn it on. Enflux operates wirelessly over Bluetooth and works with pretty much any VR/AR/MR headset that supports development in Unity. While they demo it with the HTC Vive (using their own Virtual Village People dancing game), as you can see in our interview video above, Enflux's motion capture clothing can send data to other devices like the Microsoft HoloLens or even your smartphone. Using simple integration methods through Unity, developers can build in support for the suit and quickly add more robust controls to their games.
At the moment, the developer edition of the suit costs $350 (or $300 if you complete a short survey), which is a large investment for most consumers, but is nevertheless the only suit of its kind we've seen at a price point that low. Furthermore, the technology is very resilient. If you're worried about sweating in the suit, don't—the whole thing is machine-washable. You can charge it over USB, and they managed to pack about 14 hours of battery life in as well.