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Metaverse: this is Meta’s haptic glove to feel virtual objects as real

The membrane that separates reality from fiction is getting thinner. Following the dictates of the film Ready Player One (2018), the virtual reality research laboratory of Meta is working on the development of haptic gloves that will allow feel objects and textures of the metaverse as if it were something concrete.

This year, Meta began a three-phase project to explore the future of human-machine interaction. This Tuesday, the company claimed to have concluded the third stage with new results on one of the company’s core challenges: how to feel the virtual world?

Research on soft robotics and perceptual science has presented several advances in relation to haptic gloves, which seek to generate a more realistic experience when interacting in the digital universe.

These covers would have a similar purpose to hand tracking in Quest in the sense that they will also serve for manipulate virtual objects, but the big difference is that the gloves will respond to the user according to what is being held.

Meta ensures that the objective it pursues will allow to reproduce sensations such as the smoothness of a surface, the edges of a cardboard and even the tactile response of a keyboard.

In addition, the haptic feedback will transmit pressure, texture and vibration to generate an effect that is credible to its wearer. Of course, the gloves should be “elegant, comfortable, affordable, durable and fully customizable,” says Meta.

Meta’s haptic glove

This haptic prototype from Meta is a glove covered with inflatable fluted plastic pads known as ‘actuators’, which are tiny motors that can be adjusted to the palm of the hand and the fingers of the user.

In Ready player one, the protagonist wore haptic gloves.

On the back it has small white markers that allow the cameras to follow the movement of the hands, with the help of internal sensors that detect when the fingers are bent.

The Meta team has been researching the science of perception for seven years -which combines auditory, visual and tactile stimuli to recreate the sensation of weight of an object-, soft robotics -to improve the perception of touch-, microfluidics, hand tracking systems and haptic representation.

“Over the past seven years, the team has made significant strides, from pushing the boundaries of soft robotics to developing the world’s first high-speed microfluidic processor,” they said in a statement.

The idea is that, by putting the glove on your hand, one enters an augmented reality experience, with a sophisticated control system that adjusts the inflation level, creating pressure on different parts of the hand.

Tactile sensations in the metaverse will soon be a reality.  Meta photo.

Tactile sensations in the metaverse will soon be a reality. Meta photo.

If a steel plate is touched, the user will feel the sensation of pressure that it generates. When holding a glass, the long finger actuators will stiffen, creating a sense of resistance. These sensations combine with visual and sound signals to produce the illusion of physical touch.

The idea of ​​its creators is that in the future they will be paired with virtual reality glasses and headphones to achieve a totally immersive experience.

However, there are still some obstacles to achieving a product suitable for consumption, with the proper finish. For this reason, the Meta researchers do not hide that the research is in an experimental stage.



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