Flying without wings
Dubbed the “ultimate seated VR experience”, the Roto VR chair is compatible with most VR headsets of the day

With virtual reality poised to become mainstream, the marketplace is abuzz with all kinds of peripherals to help make the virtual a little more real—or should we say “fantastic”? From VR gloves, shoes and controllers that simulate handling different kinds of equipment and walking on difficult terrain, to exercise machines that zoom you through exotic locations as you work out, it’s all a question of where your imagination can take you.

But when it comes to gaming, what we really want is to live vicariously through the mantle of the avatars we take on, be they adventurers, fantastical beings, soldiers or mercenaries on hire. We just want to immerse ourselves in realistic alternative worlds without their attendant dangers. And when you’re (pretending to be) fighting for your life, sitting down comfortably is a definite plus. Enter, the RotoVR chair, a VR locomotion kit that promises you immersion like never before while snugly seated.

Dubbed the “ultimate seated VR experience”, the Roto VR chair is compatible with most VR headsets of the day—Occulus Rift, HTC Vive, Samsung Gear, Google Cardboard, PlayStation VR and more—and features a motorised base that reacts to directional inputs from VR applications. The VR headset plugs into the base of the chair, while the chair itself plugs into the computer, this mechanism keeping the headset’s cable from wrapping around the user while the chair spins. A head-tracking device is included with the Roto that clips on to the headset and rotates the chair in the direction you turn your head, allowing for a full “360-degree exploration in full comfort”.

Other features of the Roto VR chair include touch pedals that simulate walking while still seated, and a special Cockpit Mode where the chair’s rotations are tied to your gamepad’s joystick, turning the Roto into an arcade simulator.

Accessories such as rumble shakers can be attached to the chair; a VR table to mount a steering wheel, flight stick, keyboard and mouse, display screen, camera or even a haptic controller; and a cable magazine for the Oculus or HTC Vive.

Roto VR also claims to provide solutions to motion sickness in its tech, as well as enhanced immersion with “gravitational presence”. The chair’s decoupled VR controls, the makers say, makes gameplay more realistic and immersive. In lay terms, the chair independently tracks the direction the user is facing from where they are looking—so you can look left while walking right, as you are likely to do while sneaking through an alien forest teeming with hostile life forms.

The Roto VR chair (with the touch pedals and head tracker) is available for about $1,000. A full Roto VR package, that includes the chair as well as rumble shakers, table and cable magazine starts at about $1,500 and goes up to about $2,000, depending on various options. Add about $250 for shipping to India. But before you start thinking that this sounds like a deal, remember that your gaming console, VR headset and other gaming accessories like steering wheels and joysticks are extra.

Payal Dhar