Grab virtual objects with light, thin haptic gloves
A haptic feedback glove developed by scientists from Swiss universities EPFL and ETH Zurich promises to add realistic physical sensations to VR experiences.
Although the DextrES glove weighs less than 8g per finger and can run on a battery, it can deliver up to 40 Newtons of holding force on each finger. It’s also just 2mm thick so offers the wearer freedom that bulkier options prohibit.
In an article on the EPFL website, Herbert Shea [pictured right], head of EPFL’s Soft Transducers Laboratory (LMTS), said: “We wanted to develop a lightweight device that – unlike existing virtual-reality gloves – doesn’t require a bulky exoskeleton, pumps or very thick cables.”
DextrES, which has been tested successfully on volunteers in Zurich, is made of nylon with thin elastic metal strips running over the fingers. The strips are separated by a thin insulator. When the user’s fingers come into contact with a virtual object, the controller applies a voltage difference between the metal strips causing them to stick together via electrostatic attraction – this produces a braking force that blocks the finger’s or thumb’s movement. Once the voltage is removed, the metal strips glide smoothly and the user can once again move their fingers freely.
Developers note the primary market for the product would be in gaming but tip the product for use in healthcare training for surgeons and augmented reality.