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Mark Zuckerberg shows tactile gloves for the first time

The prototype of a glove that supports AR and VR interactions, part of a secret project of Meta, first appeared on the hands of Mark Zuckerberg..

“Meta Reality Labs team is developing tactile gloves with the goal of giving users a sense of reality when interacting in the metaverse. One day, you’ll be able to feel texture and force when touching objects virtual,” CEO Meta wrote on Facebook this morning.

7 years of development

According to The Verge, the haptics glove is a device that is part of a secret and ambitious project of Reality Labs – Meta’s virtual and augmented reality research division. The goal of the developers was to create tactile gloves with the ability to recreate experiences such as grasping an object or running your hand along the surface of a virtual object while still feeling like the real thing.

On a simple level, the haptics prototype is lined with 15 ridged and inflatable plastic pads inside, called actuators. These pads are arranged to fit the wearer’s palm. The bottom and fingertips also have extremely sensitive sensors.

The glove acts as a VR controller. The back has small white markers, allowing the camera to track how the finger moves through space. The sensor will record the gesture to create activity in the virtual environment.

When users wear and participate in VR, AR experiences, a sophisticated control system will register pressure on different parts of the hand through sensors. If you touch a virtual object with your fingertips, you will feel that the object is “pressing” against your skin. If you are gripping a virtual object, the actuator in the glove stiffens, creating a realistic grip. These sensations work in conjunction with accompanying sounds and images to create “the illusion of physical touch”.

The glove has been developed by Meta since its acquisition of the Oculus VR company in 2014. The company released its first prototype with a single finger and actuator in 2015..

“I use VR glasses, see the virtual disk, then try rubbing the surface and feel like I’m touching raw ceramic,” Michael Abrash, head of Reality Labs, described the new device 6 years ago. year.

The technology applied by Reality Labs is based on the field of soft robotics, replacing bulky motors with small air valves. Such simulated touch devices are not new, but are specialized products, mainly manufactured for sale to the military, certain industries or academia.

Meanwhile, Meta directs its device to more users. “If tactile gloves are put into practice, Meta can ensure a more open future with the metaverse by attracting more developers as well as new users,” one expert commented..

According to Reality Labs, haptics gloves are one of many control methods for future VR and AR glasses and headsets. In addition, this group also implemented an EMG solution – a system that reads nerve signals in the arm and translates it into action in a digital environment. Meta, which acquired wearables company EMG CTRL-Labs in 2019, also has this goal.

However, there are still many barriers to mass production of tactile gloves. “In fact, the device only gives a sense of the contours of the object, there is no clear distinction between the surfaces. It mainly relies on the suggestive power of sounds and images for the user to imagine. “, said Reality Labs engineer Katherine Healy.

Besides, Healy also thinks that the glove size is too large and needs to be tweaked before it is put on the market so as not to cause discomfort to the wearer. Improvements may take several years.

Additionally, if gloves are commercialized, they will face the same privacy and security challenges as other biometric information-collecting wearables. Experts fear the device could track, collect and analyze human physical movements. However, Abrash insists Reality Labs only develops haptics gloves to combine with VR glasses to serve virtual reality content.

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