HomeVirtual RealityHands-on: Logitech’s MX Ink for Quest Could Legitimize VR Styluses as a...

Hands-on: Logitech’s MX Ink for Quest Could Legitimize VR Styluses as a Whole

Over the past decade I’ve reported on and examined many alternative VR styluses, however none of them have truly caught on. However the brand new MX Ink stylus for Quest stands an actual likelihood at legitimizing the VR stylus as a complete, because of its considerate design, sturdy lineup of launch apps, and tight integration with Quest’s software program.

This week Logitech introduced MX Ink, an formally endorsed ‘Made for Meta’ stylus supporting Quest 2 and Quest 3 (see the total announcement particulars right here). It’s the primary time Meta has allowed every other firm to harness its monitoring expertise in a third-party product. That alone makes MX Ink distinctive, however there’s extra that makes this the machine that might legitimize VR styluses as a complete.

The primary styluses are thought to have been invented 5 millennia in the past. And there’s a purpose they’ve caught with humanity ever since: a stylus amplifies the precision with which we will level. Whereas that appears reasonably easy, it makes info duties like writing, drawing, calculating, and designing considerably extra sensible and helpful than utilizing our fingers alone.

So it’s not shocking that we’ve seen many makes an attempt to convey a VR stylus to life.

Simply to call just a few: in 2017 an enterprising developer hacked collectively a chunky prototype utilizing a Vive Tracker and a pressure-sensitive stylus tip; in 2018 an organization referred to as Massless designed its personal prototype VR stylus that it hoped to convey to market; even Wacom has been toying with the concept. Hell, Logitech already made a VR stylus again in 2019… however at $750, it’s no surprise it by no means made it to basic availability.

So what might be completely different about Logitech’s new MX Ink? Nicely for one, the value is considerably extra palatable than what’s come earlier than. The $130 worth level is a reasonably straightforward promote for professionals for whom the added precision of a stylus may truly enhance their workflow.

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Logitech can be neatly launching some ‘good to have’ extras for many who are actually severe about making the MX Ink a part of their workflow.

There’s the Inkwell dock which, for under one other $40, provides you a simple place to retailer and cost the stylus so it’s prepared on your subsequent use. And there’s the MX Mat, for $50, which Logitech pitches as the perfect floor to make it really feel such as you’re drawing on a paper-like materials when utilizing the stylus.

Picture by Street to VR

However extra importantly than worth or equipment is the first-party integration with Meta and the sturdy lineup of supported software program out of the gate.

Logitech labored immediately with Meta, not solely to undertake Quest’s monitoring expertise, but additionally to construct the stylus’ software program expertise proper into Horizon OS. Pairing the MX Ink is rather like pairing one of many headset’s personal controllers, with none further {hardware} or software program wanted. Even the stylus’ settings—which allow you to management issues like hand choice, button bindings, and strain curves—are baked proper into the system’s personal Settings menu.

It’s even bought a correct ‘Meta’ button on the top (the place the eraser could be), making it straightforward to tug up the headset’s menu.

After which there’s the sturdy lineup of software program that can work proper out of the gate. Logitech has locked in a strong swath of VR design apps for MX Ink assist:

  • Adobe Substance Modeler
  • Gravity Sketch
  • PaintingVR
  • Arkio
  • Have interaction
  • OpenBrush
  • GestureVR
  • ShapesXR
  • Elucis by RealizeMedical

If Logitech performs its playing cards proper, MX Ink might be the primary VR stylus that basically sticks the touchdown. So evidently, I used to be intrigued to attempt it.

Fingers-on With Logitech MX Ink for Quest

Picture by Street to VR

Final week I swung by Logitech’s San Jose, CA workplace to take a look at an early model of the stylus for myself. In comparison with the corporate’s final VR stylus, the MX Ink is considerably extra compact. Even so, I used to be impressed with the monitoring.

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Picture by Street to VR

Even with my hand overlaying a big space of the stylus, there have been seemingly sufficient hidden IR LEDs hiding beneath the stylus’ shell to supply steady monitoring regardless of how I held or twisted the stylus. The corporate mentioned it even put IR LEDs towards the tip of the MX Ink so it might be held like a wand or a pallet knife.

Logitech says the stylus is ‘as correct because the Quest controllers’—however that doesn’t imply it might probably’t be extra exact. Utilizing a stylus as a pointing machine means you should use your dexterous fingers to govern the enter place in a really fantastic means; much more so than twisting your wrist alone (which is what primarily drives fantastic controller movement).

That was apparent whereas I used to be utilizing the MX Ink to attract and sketch immediately onto an actual desk in entrance of me. The strain delicate tip additionally made it really feel pure to differ line width as wanted.

Picture by Street to VR

I additionally tried utilizing the MX Ink stylus towards a whiteboard whereas utilizing Quest 3’s combined actuality view. The tight latency and accuracy of the stylus actually made it really feel like I used to be leaving marks on the whiteboard. It was a complete layer of immersion that I wasn’t anticipating to really feel whereas attempting the stylus.

This sense of truly leaving actual marks on the whiteboard solely made the subsequent half much more mind-bending… I may elevate the stylus from the floor whereas holding the button on the barrel and lengthen my drawing into the third dimension. Watching my strokes actually leap off the web page like this was simply plain enjoyable.

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Whereas urgent the MX Ink towards an actual floor, the tip communicates the quantity of strain to the headset and thus adjustments the thickness of the road you draw. However once you’re utilizing the stylus to attract in 3D, instantly there’s no means for the system to know the way a lot strain you’re utilizing, proper? Truly, no; Logitech neatly made the button on the barrel of the stylus strain delicate itself, so you may squeeze softer or more durable to outline the width of brush strokes, even once you’re drawing within the air.

The MX Ink even features a haptic engine for suggestions. So even for those who’re utilizing it towards a digital floor, the stylus can let you already know once you’re touching the canvas.

– – — – –

I’m impressed with the extent of thoughtfulness within the design of MX Ink. It’s clear the corporate has carried over some vital classes realized from its earlier experiments with VR styluses.

MX Ink has an inexpensive worth level, direct integration with the preferred headsets in the marketplace, and a powerful lineup of supporting apps. Logitech is giving the VR stylus—as a class—its finest likelihood but at actually catching on.

The important items are in place. The factor that can make or break this product is now probably all the way down to how properly built-in it’s into the workflow of key purposes. My understanding is that builders have an enormous vary of management over precisely how their purposes will deal with MX Ink. Half-hearted implementations may kill what in any other case seems to be like a powerful product.

With MX Ink not resulting from launch till September, there’s time nonetheless for purposes to tighten up their implementations, so we’ll have to attend to see the way it all comes collectively.

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