(Update, 3/1/2017, 02:30 p.m. PST: The dev kits are now available from the Manus VR website. The company is also selling wrist straps for the HTC Vive Tracker for €200 and a hand-washing set for €50. A license for Unity 5 and Unreal Engine 4 plugins costs €500; a MoCap license costs €2,000. Manus VR also offers one year of technical support for €2,500.)
Manus VR announced that its Development Kit will debut for 1,000 EUR on March 1. This will give devs the chance to experiment with the company's gloves, which offer full finger tracking, thumb tracking, haptic feedback, and other features that are supposed to make VR experiences more immersive.
Manus VR said the dev kits are "compatible with leading VR and Motion Capture Systems such as the HTC Vive, Xsens, Vicon, PhaseSpace and OptiTrack." The company will provide a pair of gloves; an SDK for C++ and C#; and a variety of tools for Unity 5, Unreal Engine 4, and Motion Builder.
Previous dev kits cost $250; it's not clear why the gloves quadrupled in price in just 11 months. Perhaps it has something to do with Manus VR's work with organizations like NASA and the resulting improvements made to the hardware. The company implied that was the case in a press release:
"Since we started shipping our engineering samples last year, we’ve received an incredible demand for a professional data-glove" said Stephan van den Brink, CEO at Manus VR. “Working closely with our early access developers such as NASA, MIT and Cambridge University we were able to enhance our product to an unpreceded level.”
Improved hardware could help Manus VR. We had a (literal) hands-on (Editor's note: Hands-in?) with the product in June 2016 and found that it had a lot of promise but ultimately fell short of its goals:
This is all very much a work in progress. At times, not every finger was tracked, in particular my pinky, and often other fingers as well. Sometimes the tracking was just slightly off, although during Pillow's Willow (which doesn't require too much fine motor precision), I didn't really experience any latency or inaction. Thumb rotation is a crucial, natural element, so that will be a welcome addition. In the full arm demo, all of my joint movements looked quite natural, but my shoulders seemed as if they had been moved in by a few inches on each side of my body.
Still, those problems did little to hurt the hype surrounding Manus VR's gloves. Who doesn't want to reach out to grasp virtual objects with their own hands instead of a motion controller, gamepad, or other input device? (Not to mention the Minority Report feel of navigating interfaces with gestures.)
Each glove boasts a "high quality rechargeable battery" and is hand washable. Manus VR said the Development Kit is expected to ship in Q2 2017, and more information is available on its website. You can see the glove in action--albeit in a rather limited tech demo--in the video below.
Manus VR didn't say when its glove might be released to consumers. The company might want to hurry: A prototype glove peripheral from Oculus was recently spotted in a photo shared by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and companies like NeuroDigital have also been working on similar concepts.