Animals don’t understand virtual reality, and unless somebody releases a prototype that you can put on a cat’s head without getting your arms ripped to shreds, they never will. Combining covered eyes with domestic animals’ tendency to get underfoot at the worst possible moment is a recipe for disaster, as my cat discovered when it rubbed against me during a particularly tense moment in Resident Evil 7 (sorry Humphries, I thought you were a blood-thirsty monster, intent on tearing me to pieces. It turns out that only one of those things is actually true.)
Cornish indie outfit Triangular Pixels has an interesting solution to this problem: bring the cat into the game. Using the Vive tracker add-on, which allows you to bring real objects into the virtual world, the team has hacked a variety of Steam games bring their cat with them into the game. Cats are about as helpful in-game as they are in real life, but at least you can avoid an unfortunate trip/vet bill.
The Vive tracker is strapped onto a cat jacket, and the studio is currently working on an app to insert your pet into whatever SteamVR game you’re playing at the time. Which might be a bit disorientating if you see your furry friend floating in the sky as you walk the plank.
“We need to make sure the device can be removed very swiftly from not-so-patient cats/dogs, and safely come off if it gets really caught, but at the same time, stay on for the average rolling around and sleeping a pet may do,” explains Triangular Pixels’ creative director Katie Goode in a blog post. “Fortunately the tracker itself is VERY light, so is perfect for this kind of fabric hacking.”
The project is close to the four-person studio’s hearts, given each one of them has a cat. The test subject is a 10-year-old male cat, but you could equally strap it to a dog or a child, should you wish.
If you’re interested in the project – or the studio’s other work, which includes the BAFTA-nominated Unseen Diplomacy – you can back their Patreon here. They’ll provide the software, but you’ll need to bring the Vive tracker. And the pet to wear it, of course.