Mar 17, 2017 | By David

If there’s one thing that can rival 3D printing’s ability to fuel our imagination, it’s virtual reality technology. Oculus’ groundbreaking Rift headset has been making waves for the last few years as the most advanced example of VR on the market, and today it just got a whole lot more exciting. The company has now made it possible for gamers to 3D print their own accessories for the Rift’s Touch controllers. The CAD files that are used as guidelines for developers have been made available online by Oculus, so anyone with a 3D printer and the design know-how will be able to modify their Touch controllers in any way they see fit.

This release is a follow-up to last year’s publication of the designs for the Rift headset itself. Oculus is actively encouraging its users to get involved and improve its products, and there are a variety of different potential modifications that could be successfully implemented, with the help of 3D printing technology. Something like a new grip or mount for the Touch, customized according to a particular user’s needs or whims, is now a very real possibility.

Another application could be the development of new third-party controllers. The release of the CAD files includes the design for the Rock Band guitar adapter, which comes with every Touch controller. This enables the 3D printing of new devices that will be able to link up to the Touch in the same way.

Oculus is not the first VR company to publish its plans and make its technology available for third-party modification. Since commercially available virtual reality headsets started to hit the market a few years ago, HTC and Valve have released not only the 3D designs for their devices, but also the tracking technology that makes the VR experience possible. This will greatly expand the range of applications VR can have, and we are sure to see it integrated more and more into everyday life, for all sorts of purposes.

While these new modifications and developments would currently only be accessible to someone with the 3D printing resources and the 3D design expertise, it can only be a matter of time before we see these hobbyists making their best creations commercially available. All sorts of ingenious new accessories could soon be popping up online, in places like Etsy or Ebay.

Improving the comfort and fun of the virtual reality experience is definitely a worthwhile goal, but what is perhaps more exciting about this release is the potential for VR to be made accessible to a broader market. People with limited mobility, or other special requirements that are not currently met by the technology Oculus and its competitors have produced, could soon have the opportunity to enjoy what the Rift and other devices like it have to offer. If we think of the ways in which 3D printing on its own has benefitted the visually impaired community, for example, then the integration of 3D technology with VR suggests an incredibly promising future. All that is needed is the expertise and the will to help, which countless other 3D printing start-ups and projects have shown to be available worldwide in abundance.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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