Virtual reality (VR) technology has advanced significantly in recent years, offering users immersive experiences in various virtual worlds. In particular, haptic feedback has emerged as a crucial component for creating a more realistic and engaging VR experience. Haptic gloves, such as those developed by HaptX and Meta, provide users with the sensation of touch in the virtual world. However, these gloves are often cumbersome, requiring bulky control units and long wires and tubing.
Fluid Reality, a tech startup, aims to address these challenges with its new haptic VR gloves. The company has developed an untethered, high-resolution glove that delivers haptic feedback directly to the user’s fingertips. Unlike existing gloves, Fluid Reality’s device is wireless, lightweight, and self-contained, eliminating the need for external equipment.
The haptic glove features 160 dynamic haptic feedback actuators, delivering precise touch sensations to each fingertip. For example, when using the glove to play a virtual violin, users will be able to feel the vibrations of each individual string. This is made possible by bubble-like ‘pixels’ in the fingertip haptic array, which contain a fluid that stretches and fills the bubble when activated. The pixels are controlled by electrically-controlled pumps, generating different tactile sensations based on the charge within the fluid. This breakthrough design allows users to experience objects of various shapes, sizes, and textures in the virtual world.
The haptic arrays in Fluid Reality’s glove are low-profile, measuring only 0.2 inches (5 mm) thick, and operate on a low power of 10 mW/pixel. The glove is entirely self-contained, with no external tubing or wiring, and has a battery life of approximately three hours. The compact and lightweight design is achieved by utilizing off-the-shelf components, such as a Raspberry Pi, resulting in a glove that weighs just 0.5 pounds (207 grams). In comparison, HaptX’s Glove G1 weighs a hefty 17 pounds (7.7 kilograms).
One of the standout advantages of Fluid Reality’s haptic glove is its affordability. Priced at under $1,000, it offers a more accessible option compared to the Glove G1, which costs $5,495 for a pair, plus a mandatory monthly subscription fee of $495.
The Fluid Reality team recently presented a paper on their haptic glove design at the User Interface Software and Technology (UIST) symposium. They showcased the device’s features in a video, demonstrating its ability to provide a high-resolution, untethered haptic VR experience.
With its innovative design, Fluid Reality’s untethered haptic VR gloves have the potential to revolutionize the VR industry by offering users a more affordable, lightweight, and immersive haptic experience. As VR technology continues to evolve, advancements in haptic feedback will play a vital role in creating truly realistic virtual environments.
1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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