Earlier this week, HTC announced a tracker that can turn just about anything into a controller for its Vive VR system. The idea is that you can swing a real baseball bat or shoot a toy gun or use a mockup camera in virtual reality, all of which is fairly fun. But there’s one thing I can’t believe I haven’t seen yet: a dining set that will let me eat and drink in a headset.
If you follow me on Twitter or watched me try to drink whiskey in my 2015 Gear VR review, you may know that food and VR are a bit of a sticking point for me. If I can eat popcorn in a movie theater, I want to be able to eat dinner while watching VR film at home, or keep a glass of water on my desk to hydrate while I’m doing virtual rock climbing. But right now, I have to get out of my headset (or turn on an external camera) to find the food, or risk knocking it over. And it’s very difficult to fit an ordinary glass or bottle under a headset.
Someday, we’ve been promised combination augmented/virtual reality headsets the size of sunglasses, with machine vision that will add real objects to “augmented virtual reality.” But that’s years away at best, and the Vive trackers (and less obtrusive SteamVR tracked objects) are here now. So it’s time to start slapping those things all over everything.
Here’s what I need: a tracked plate and bowl that will appear in virtual reality experiences. A tracked spoon and fork. (I’ll just kind of feel around the plate for the actual food, unless the Vive team is exploring edible trackers too — which I wouldn’t entirely put past them.) And a large tracked cup with a built-in straw for my drinks, preferably spillproof. I’m not sure exactly what kind of software tweaks would need to happen for these to show up in any game or app, but that’s part of the job too.
Is this a ludicrously specific request for virtual reality hardware? Sure. But I just put out fires with a VR hose and heated haptic fire jacket. Until we download our brains to the internet, at least eating is something everybody has to do.