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Researchers develop haptic gloves that can feel objects in virtual reality

Researchers develop haptic gloves that can feel objects in virtual reality
18 Jan, 2023
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Researchers at the National University of Singapore have developed a virtual reality HaptGlove that will give users a more realistic sense of "feeling" items in virtual environments. 

They claim that the HaptGlove is innovative because it delivers pressure to the fingers in real time to mimic the texture of items, making it stand out from other technologies. 

The glove incorporates the researchers' microfluidic sensor technology to provide haptic feedback and pneumatic control. The NUS group claims that this eliminates the need for bulky add-ons while still reducing the glove's size and weight. 

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Five sets of haptic feedback modules, one for each finger, are included into HaptGlove. These modules are remotely operated to interpret the VR object's dimensions, hardness, and other properties. The user may "feel" the contact when the virtual reality item is touched, grasped, and moved thanks to a microfluidic pneumatic indenter that provides pressure in real time to the user's fingertips. The shape and texture of the object may be simulated by the user's fingers due to the glove's restrictive design. 

“The HaptGlove’s unique design allows users to interact with the virtual world more naturally and realistically, which would give users unobtrusive recreational or competitive sensation in VR,” said Prof Lim Chwee Teck, who is also from the Department of Biomedical Engineering under the NUS College of Design and Engineering.   

The concept of Haptic Gloves has been around for some time, and other businesses are also developing similar products, like AjnaLens, a Mumbai-based hardware and software firm, which launched its version of the gloves last year called AjnaSparsh. Companies like Vedanta are using this technology to upskill its employees, which allows the user to naturally interact with virtual items in the Metaverse. 

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Apart from this, Meta Reality Labs is also developing Haptic Gloves, packed with around 15 ridged and inflated plastic pads called actuators. The pads are designed to cover the palm, the backs of the fingers, and the tips of the user's fingers. The glove has built-in sensors that detect the user’s finger bends and tiny white marks on the rear that allow cameras to follow the fingers as they travel across space.