Researchers create haptic glove with improved virtual touch

HaptGlove uses haptic feedback to improve the virtual user experience (National University of Singapore)

Researchers at the National University of Singapore are creating gloves that will allow users to more realistically “feel” objects in a virtual environment. Presenting their creation as different from existing technology, they claim that HaptGlove applies pressure to the fingertips in real time and mimics the texture of objects.

The glove uses haptic feedback and pneumatic control that is integrated with the researchers’ microfluidic sensing technology. According to the university team, this reduces the size and weight of the glove without the need for bulky accessories.

HaptGlove has five pairs of haptic feedback modules, one for each finger, that are wirelessly controlled to read a virtual reality object for its shape, size and texture. The microfluidic pneumatic penetrator applies real-time pressure to the wearer’s fingertips, allowing them to “feel” contact as the avatar touches, grabs, and moves the VR object. The glove further constrains the position of the user’s fingers to mimic the shape and texture of the object.

Virtual reality and realistic touch

The researchers noted that while tactile gloves were nothing new, the products currently available on the market typically use vibration motors and do not provide a realistic touch experience. For example, they could not accurately model the shape or hardness of a virtual object.

Others used pneumatic actuators to create a sense of pressure, but these were often unwieldy and restricted the user’s movements.

“My experience with virtual reality and the metaverse has always been unsatisfactory,” said Lim Chwi Tek, director of the Institute of Medical Innovation and Technology at the National University of Singapore, who leads the research team. “Virtual reality should not be limited to visual and auditory experiences. It should offer the possibility of interacting with virtual objects. However, current methods of tapping on a virtual pad or interacting with another avatar do not provide the touch sensation we experience in the real world. »

Patented Prototype

Thanks to software developed by the researchers, the HaptGlove displays a visual tactile delay of less than 20 milliseconds, which the research team says is faster than conventional tactile gloves. At 250 grams, it’s also lighter than competing products on the market that weigh 450 grams.

The HaptGlove concept was developed in 2019, and two years later a prototype was developed and 20 users were recruited to test the product.

The researchers have applied for a patent and plan to bring the glove to market within two years, with the goal of doing so at half the cost of products currently on the market.

The effort is being led by a spin-off from the University, Microtube Technologies, which develops sensor technologies for gaming and the metaverse.

Source: .com

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