A Virginia Tech team has found a way to unlock Jedi 'Force Push' powers in VR

These are the Jedi powers you’ve been looking for:

Unfortunately, they’re not real, so you’ll just have to be happy with Force Pushing things around in VR for a while yet.

The technology is being developed by Virginia Tech, and while the functionality of moving stuff around in VR won’t excite Oculus Rift users, the controls might. Because there are none.

“We wanted to try and do this without any device, just using your hands, and also do it with gestures in a way that’s more playful,” says Doug Bowman, the Frank J. Maher Professor of Computer Science and director of the Center for Human Computer Interaction.

Using your bare hands, “Force Push” (no word on whether Virginia Tech’s use of that term has been shut down yet) “employs natural gesture-to-action mapping for object manipulation in a VR setting”.

Here’s the video of the demonstration:

The team used an Oculus Rift CV1 for display and a Leap Motion for hand tracking. The virtual environment was developed in the Unity game engine, and the native physics engine of Unity was used to drive the physics-based simulation of the Force Push interface.

Best of all, the skill isn’t just limited to people born with a high midi-chlorian count. The power to Force Push comes from physics-driven algorithms and gesture mapping rich enough to differentiate between gentle nudges and chucking a large block across a room.

“Every week we kind of tweak something different in order to make the experience feel right,” said Bowman. “But now it feels really cool.”

You can read a report detailing the research that was recently published in Frontiers in ICT here.

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