Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

What This Activision Patent Could Mean For The Future Of VR

As of late, gamers have experienced two huge leaps into full game immersion: beloved VR titles that took advantage of progress in the field, and improved haptic feedback in game controllers. While you can now turn around and explore 3D VR worlds without wanting to hurl, as well as feel the sensation of virtual gun recoil as you hold down trigger buttons, publishers haven't combined the two just yet. Leave it to Activision to try first.

Activision has filed a patent for a new peripheral called a "haptic gun." The device uses a "microcontroller" designed to give feedback that simulates firing a gun within a virtual environment. Moreover, the gun and its microcontroller will simulate more than just the recoil of a gun. It can provide the sensation of upgrading the gun, damaging the gun, and running out of ammunition — as well as non-gun feedback, such as casting spells. The device can literally turn you into a virtual gun wizard.

The haptic gun's primary use is fairly obvious. As the patent states, the peripheral would "enhance the immersion into the virtual reality experience." The device probably won't weigh as much as a real gun, but the microcontroller is designed to give it the kick of one whenever you pull the trigger, as well as mimic different sensations. These are all the ingredients needed to create a new VR Call of Duty experience, one that does everything Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond tried to do. However, that is only the beginning.

The patent mostly discusses the haptic gun and its uses within a virtual environment, but only for the sake of simplicity. The document rolls "virtual reality" and "augmented reality" into one term, which means the peripheral could be used outside of video games. The patent implies the gun could connect to an AR headset that superimposes video game graphics over reality. This setup might let gamers play a round of laser tag with simulated gun recoil, perhaps with the ability to run around a field and collect powerups to upgrade a laser pistol into a laser shotgun. Several figures within the patent even back up this AR laser tag possibility.

While patents do not guarantee manufacture, if Activision follows through on it, you could see the peripheral lining store shelves as a "must-buy VR accessory" or serving as a blueprint for future VR controllers. Don't be surprised if upcoming VR games — such as a sequel to Half-Life: Alyx — include a disclaimer like, "Plays best with a haptic gun," and be on the lookout for Call of Duty-themed AR laser tag arenas that feature the device. Then again, if Activision doesn't go forward with the project, maybe this will be the last we ever hear of the gun.