VR Peripheral Devices Buyer's Guide
Peripheral devices are specialized equipment that can be used to make clients’ VR experiences more convincing as part of in-office therapy. For example:
Handheld controllers that enable clients to move around within a VE, select menu items or interact with virtual objects. Some controllers provide haptic or touch feedback to confirm actions.
Gloves, vests, or suits, that add haptic feedback (sense of touch), kinesthetic stimuli, or motion capture capabilities.
Specialized devices related to certain virtual environments such as steering wheel and pedal controls for driving environments or simulated weapons for combat environments.
Vibrating platform or chair to add kinesthetic stimuli such as simulating the vibration of airplane engines revving up in preparation for takeoff. Platforms can be heavy and bulky, for example 3 ft by 4 ft in size.
Scent generators can be used to enhance situational sensory realism. For example, the smell of alcohol before an injection for needle phobia, liquor for substance abuse, gunpowder for war-related post-traumatic stress disorder, pine trees or ocean for reward and relaxation VEs of those environments.
In general, virtual environments are sufficiently evocative for therapeutic use without requiring peripheral devices.
Figure: Example Handheld Controllers (Oculus)
Note: Check the VR software instructions for details of handheld controller usage. Software designed for VR headsets that come with handheld controllers may not be usable without the controllers. Some handheld controllers must be paired or otherwise setup before they can be used. VR therapy software may not support all controller buttons and options, or the software may assign special meaning to certain buttons.
Where to Buy
Many vendors of VR therapy products that utilize peripheral equipment also sell these devices, either as part of a package or separately. If you need to buy peripherals, coordinate with the VR therapy product vendor to be sure you know what specific peripherals work with the therapy product.
Check the VR peripheral manufacturer's website for information on where to buy their products or try an Internet search for the product name. Consumer VR accessories are primarily sold online and through big box electronic retailers. Some computer or electronic game stores carry VR peripherals that can be used in games.