According to its creators, a new barely perceptible haptic device can provide a “vivid haptic experience” in virtual worlds such as the metaverse by collecting customized “sensation data.”
One of the main goals of haptic technology and researchers for a possible metaverse is to enhance the virtual experience through haptic sensations and, above all, to create barely perceptible and comfortable devices for users.
If you recall, SenseGlove, a Dutch start-up, has already created a glove that facilitates virtual recovery programs through VR simulations and haptic training.
For example, a person with nerve injuries can be trained to perform everyday actions in a safe digital environment, such as pouring a cup of coffee or cutting a steak.
Ultraleap, meanwhile, is a haptic technology company that makes gloves that enable hand tracking and haptic feedback in the air.
However, we are talking about rather bulky devices that, while very useful in medicine and entertainment, are not 100 percent useful for use in virtual reality.
WeTac haptic gloves
That’s why a team led by researchers at the University of Hong Kong has recently developed an advanced wireless haptic interface system, called WeTac, which is worn in the hand, has comfortable, ultra-thin features, and collects customized haptic sensation data to provide a near-haptic but metaverse-centric experience.
This is how WeTac, the wireless haptic glove for VR, works
“Haptic feedback has enormous potential, along with auditory and visual information, in virtual reality (VR). That’s why we tried to make the haptic interface thinner, smoother, more compact and wireless, so that it can be worn loosely in the hand, like a second skin,” explains Dr. Yu Xinge, director of the research.
The WeTac system consists of two parts. On the one hand, there is a small 19.2 gram soft controller that attaches to the forearm and serves, as the name suggests, as a control panel.
It uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) wireless communication and a rechargeable lithium-ion battery.
On the other hand, a one-millimeter thick hand patch with hydrogel electrodes serves as a haptic interface. It is very flexible and provides effective feedback in various postures and gestures.
The device has several built-in safety measures to protect users from electric shock, and the temperature of the device is kept in a relatively low range of 27-35.5°C to avoid discomfort due to continued use and overheating.
Thanks to these features and its incredible adaptation to the body, it can easily map each user’s hands to create a personalized tactile response.
From this data, electrotactile information can be sent to any part of the hand in an appropriate intensity range to avoid causing pain or being too weak to be perceived.
We believe it is a powerful tool for virtual touch and is inspiring the development of metaverses, human-computer interfaces (HCI) and other areas,” says Dr. Yu.
Users will be able to feel virtual objects in different scenarios, such as grasping a tennis ball during a workout, touching a cactus or feeling a mouse pass over their hand.
This is undoubtedly one more step towards a future metaverse.
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