Meta’s Reality Labs has put out a video showing a model of Haptic Glove, a sensory tool that would someday be a means of interaction in the Metaverse. As the name indicates, the glove elicits the sense of touch in the virtual space.
Well, Meta describes the Haptic Glove as “comfortable and customizable gloves that can reproduce a range of sensations in virtual worlds, including texture, pressure, and vibration. While we’re still in the early stages of this research, the goal is to one day pair the gloves with your VR headset for an immersive experience like playing in a concert or poker game in the metaverse, and eventually, they’d work with your AR glasses”.
The blog post by Meta details the science and tech behind this.
Haptic Gloves consists of several tiny soft actuators (plastic motors), which are responsible for producing the touch sensation. This depends on the flow and velocity of air through them. There is a small microfluidic chip that controls the airflow within these actuators.
But the other part of the equation is identifying and understanding things like the hand’s location and physical properties of the virtual objects (such as texture, weight, and stiffness) that the hand comes in contact with. This is done by a haptic renderer that transmits precise instructions based on a topographical mapping it does.
Not only that, the Haptic Glove is equipped with an “advanced hand-tracking technology” that determines how much of a sensation and where on the hand, the sensation must be simulated.
“Our haptic glove project started as a moonshot, but it’s increasingly feasible as we continue to innovate and complete research. Over the last seven years, we’ve pioneered new techniques, technologies and disciplines, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with soft robotics and inventing entirely new materials and manufacturing processes. Moving each of these research areas forward requires time to get the technology right, so while our haptic glove research will remain in the lab for now, we’re excited about the progress we’ve made and the potential it shows for a virtual world you can touch,” concludes the post.