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Adding An Interactable

  • Level: Beginner

  • Reading Time: 10 minutes

  • Checked with: Unity 2018.3.10f1


An Interactable prefab provides GameObject that can be interacted with in the virtual world via an Interactor prefab. Interactable GameObjects can be notified of actions that the Interactor is performing such as being touched by an Interactor or reacting to actions such as a grab button being pressed.

There are a number of different Interactable prefabs on offer, but for this example we’ll focus on setting up the Interactable.Primary_Grab.Secondary_Swap prefab, which is the most common use case for an Interactable GameObject.

By default, Interactable GameObjects can usually perform two actions depending on which Interactor is acting upon them. A common use case is a scene with a Left and Right Controller, both capable of grabbing the Interactable GameObject and carrying it in some way, the first grab attempt from an Interactor is called the Primary Grab Action and whilst this is occurring any second grab attempt from a different Interactor is called the Secondary Grab Action.

This guide will show how to set up an Interactable prefab that we can grab with either of our controllers and when we grab it with the other controller, the Interactable GameObject will swap hands as if we had passed the GameObject between our virtual hands.

Useful definitions


Let’s Start

Step 1

Before we begin adding the Interactable prefab to the scene, let’s create a simple surface that the Interactable prefab will rest on as Interactable GameObjects have a Rigidbody component which means they are affected by the gravity in our virtual world. If an Interactable prefab was added to a blank scene then when the scene was played it would just fall infinitely as the virtual world gravity would apply to it and pull it down until it collided with a solid surface.

Create a new Cube Unity 3D Object by selecting Main Menu -> GameObject -> 3D Object -> Cube then rename the GameObject to Table.

Note: You may need to change the Table GameObject properties so it is positioned in a place where it is easy to reach and grab the Interactable prefab we’re about to add.

Create Table GameObject

Step 2

Expand the VRTK Prefabs Package directory in the Unity Project window until the Packages -> VRTK Prefabs -> Interactions -> Interactables directory is visible then drag and drop the Interactable.Primary_Grab.Secondary_Swap prefab into the Unity Hierarchy window.

Drag Interactable Into Hierarchy

Step 3

We’re going to change the look of the Interactable.Primary_Grab.Secondary_Swap GameObject as by default it’s just a 1 x 1 x 1 Cube, which will be very big in our virtual world.

Expand the Interactable.Primary_Grab.Secondary_Swap GameObject in the Unity Hierarchy window until the Meshes -> DefaultMesh GameObject is visible. We can add a new mesh or collection of meshes under the Meshes GameObject and simply set the Meshes -> DefaultMesh GameObject to inactive to hide it from the scene, or we can simply change the parameters on the components found on the Meshes -> DefaultMesh GameObject.

For this example, we’ll just change the Meshes -> DefaultMesh to reduce the size of the cube. With the Meshes -> DefaultMesh GameObject selected, change the Transform component properties to:

Resize Interactable Cube Mesh

Step 4

Let’s move the Interactable GameObject so it’s resting on top of the Table GameObject in the scene. When moving an Interactable prefab make sure not to move the internal meshes and instead move the Interactable prefab GameObject that was dragged into the Unity Hierarchy window.

Select the Interactable.Primary_Grab.Secondary_Swap GameObject in the Unity Hierarchy window and adjust the Transform component properties so the Interactable GameObject is resting on top of the Table GameObject.

Note: You don’t have to be pixel perfect with the positioning, if the Interactable GameObject is too high then gravity will make it fall down on top of the table and if it is slightly intersecting with the table, then the Unity Physics system will resolve the collision and push the Interactable GameObject up a bit until it is resting normally on the table.

Adjust Interactable GameObject Position To Rest On Table


Play the Unity scene and touch the Interactable.Primary_Grab.Secondary_Swap GameObject with either the Left or Right Controller. The Interactors on the touching Controller will tell the Interactable GameObject that it is being touched and then pressing the Trigger down on the Controller will initiate the Grab Action and make the Interactable GameObject follow our grabbing Controller around.

You can grab the Interactable GameObject with the other Controller to swap the grab to the other hand and you can also throw the Interactable GameObject and release the Trigger to apply the Controller velocity which will throw the Interactable GameObject.

Throwing The Interactable Into The Air