Can(‘t) touch this

Written by:
Lucie Sadler
Date Posted:
7 February 2018
New Tech

VR is now so real that you can touch it.

Immersion. That’s what you want from your VR experience. You want to feel like you’re actually in a virtual world. Sure, you can see and hear things around you with most headsets on the market, but one of main drawbacks is the clunky controllers. It definitely takes the edge off the experience.

Realistic touch
Seattle based start-up, HaptX, has developed a VR glove that makes virtual reality so real that you can touch it. They made their debut at the Sundance Film Festival this week, giving the public the chance to test the new tech.

The glove is the first of its kind in the world, boasting ‘realistic touch’. With the glove you can feel the shape and temperature of whatever you’re touching in the game. You can even tell if a virtual object is hard or soft. In the promo video for HaptX  it shows a user running their hand through grass and playing the piano, which looks pretty damn cool.

Tiny air pockets
The technology behind HaptX’s glove is microfluidics. The glove is made up of thousands of tiny little air pockets, and works by inflating and deflating more than 100 tiny blisters of air across the surface of your hand. The more air pockets on the glove, the finer the feeling. The only thing missing is the texture of objects (other than a vibration), but HaptX have hinted that something might be in the pipeline in the near future.

Putting on the glove does look like something out of Terminator due to its size and the mass of cables attached to it. This prototype is probably not consumer friendly just yet. HaptX have said that they’ll try and sell the glove to companies, with it being used for employee training, design and manufacturing, and in VR arcades or theme parks.

There are apparently several Fortune 500 companies already interested in testing the kit, so it’ll be interesting to see how this technology will develop if it got some serious financial backing.

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