Created by: Leap Motion

Released February 10, 2016

Available for: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Windows Mixed Reality

Blocks incorporates an interactive engine built for the Leap Motion Controller which allows users to visualize and interact with virtual objects using all of their fingers. The controller reinterprets the user’s hands and gestures to emulate actions within the virtual environment. The user is able to create and interact with 3-dimensional digital objects as well as manipulate gravity. An introductory tutorial is given through captions and simulations done by an abstract figure. Users are told to spawn cubes and prisms via pinching and releasing motions.

Selection of geometries is simply done using a menu activated by opening one’s left hand. The background music builds up as users learn new abilities and climaxes when the user is taught the ability to turn off gravity through a swing of one’s hands.

However, there are issues with collision boxes and accurate finger tracking that induce the blocks to go through each other and the user’s grabbing motions are not correctly registered. It can be rather frustrating when trying to complete dexterous tasks because the fingers go through the blocks instead of registering the gentle tap or grab. Furthermore, using the pinching action as a way to create the blocks can interfere with just a normal pinching motion when users want to pinch a corner instead of create a new block. This overlapping of functions for one gesture can prohibit the user from carrying out normal intuitive tasks.

As a proof of concept, Blocks does an excellent job of porting the user’s hands in virtual reality. It is absolutely enjoyable to finally be able to use hands for natural interactions with digital objects instead of being restrained to controllers. This functionality truly reinforces the realism of VR and bridges the proprioceptive gap that controllers induce. But the low fidelity of collision boxes and tracking in combination with the short storyline or tasks definitely makes this program a one-time only experience.

Some questions: How would haptic gloves change this experience?