It has been known for nearly a half year that Logitech has been planning on releasing a VR Stylus, and last week it finally became available for pre-order. This stylus, the ‘VR Ink Pilot Edition’, uses SteamVR tracking to give users a natural and precise way of art input into their VR area. This is going to change the way users create inside of virtual reality.
This VR stylus from Logitech was only available to a select few since May for feedback, but now anyone can pre-order this pen for $750. With that being said, the company is still calling this a “beta product” and you should expect a few bugs when you receive yours. While in the checkout process, they will be ensuring you know what it means to be buying a beta product and what to expect with its first release. The stylus is expected to ship at the beginning of February 2020 and will require Steam 1.0 or 2.0 base stations. Those sensors are not included in your purchase of the product.
Along with the stylus that is being shipped to buying customers, Logitech will also be including the option to buy a VR Ink Drawing Mat for $70. If you are wondering what that exactly is, the company is describing it as a “low friction surface texture designed for optimal tracking performance.” It is unclear what purpose this serves, as it could be used for extra tracking or even a flat surface for you to draw on wherever you are inside of your virtual environment. The tip of the stylus is pressure-sensitive, so this could be a great place to take advantage of it. The drawing surface that is costing $70 and is sized at 23.4″ × 33.1″ (594mm × 841mm).
This stylus is much more than a virtual pen or pencil though, as there are plenty of options for input when holding it. The weight of the pen is 68 grams, and it is packing a lot of heat. It has a pressure-sensitive button, a clickable 2D touch strip, menu/system buttons, and even buttons on the side that will act as ‘grip’ buttons. The stylus also includes haptics, which seem to be pretty powerful and responsive. The battery life is upward of 2.5 hours as well. This is much more than a pen.
Even though this is recognized as a SteamVR device as has plenty of inputs, you won’t be able to do any gaming with this tool. Certain VR apps will have this integrated into their software, but you won’t find any games with it. As far as compatibility goes, Logitech is currently listing Flyingshapes, Vector Suite, VRED, Mindesk, Gravity Sketch, MARUI (Maya plugin), IrisVR, and Tilt Brush, with integrations for Unreal Engine and Unity. Including developer tools is going to be one of the major selling points of this going forward.
In a statement from Logitech, they state that they have improved from the prototype that was originally shipped out in May of 2019. The full version will be released just 8 months later.
“To make a stylus really work for surface drawing in VR, you need a lot of precision, and so far the VR Ink has impressed on that front. Largely driven by SteamVR Tracking, but undoubtedly assisted by the stylus’ pressure-sensitive tip, drawing against a table feels really natural. I’m by no means a digital artist who spends every day with a Wacom tablet, but I’ve used my fair share of tablet PCs with active digitizers (including the Surface Book as my primary laptop), and VR Ink’s drawing and pressure sensitivity felt very comparable.
“Granted, there was some occasional stuttering of the stylus, though for the most part it seemed occlusion related, which could be fixed with better base station placement. The demo room was using four 2.0 base stations mounted above head height (which is typically what you want), but mounting them just above table height might actually allow for a better view of the stylus, especially when the user is leaning over the stylus as they draw or write.”
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