When I initially found out about HaptX from a friend, I was baffled at just how quickly VR technology was evolving to be made more immersive. In a video I saw, a company by the name of AxonVR was developing a full body virtual reality suit — this sort of exoskeleton that would place your entire body in the virtual experience. This company, now called HaptX, is developing the first haptics-utilizing virtual reality gloves that provide a real sense of touch.
These gloves take the idea of immersion to an entirely different level. You are able to feel objects and all their properties rather than simply viewing it through a pair of lenses.
The gloves take virtual stimuli to then produce accurate real-time feedback. Haptics is the science behind the feeling and sensation of touch. This technology is being created to allow you to feel the structure, texture, movement, and temperature of a virtual object with your hands.
What creates the sensation of touch is an array of pneumatic actuators and embedded microfluidic air channels. It sounds complicated, and to those who aren’t mechanical, electrical, or biomedical engineers, it probably is, but imagine a bunch of microscopic pistons that push up against different parts of your hands and fingers to replicate the same feeling you have when actually touching something. Pressure is precisely applied to your skin to replicate an endless amount of physical sensations. The gloves can even provide temperature feedback by passing variations of hot and cold water throughout the glove.
The glove even has a force feedback exoskeleton which can apply up to five pounds of resistance to each finger. This same technology is eventually aimed to be implemented in arm and leg devices. The glove also uses industrial-grade motion-tracking. This means the software knows exactly where the body’s position is to ensure it can create convincing interactions with the virtual environment.
HaptX has made it their mission to create lifelike touch in digital experiences. Along with the gloves, the technology has the capacity to be used in other wearable products. Whether it is used in virtual training, designing and manufacturing, or playing a video game, the future of this technology is boundless.
What better way is there to develop an immunity for arachnophobia than holding what feels like actual spiders in your hands? Virtual reality is already being used to administer physical therapy but the development of technology to enhance the experience will only serve to enhance the treatment as well.
Learn more about HaptX.
Rahman is a Senior at BASIS Mesa in Mesa, Arizona. He is wildly interested neuroscience and has a large interest in virtual reality and its applications for cognitive and behavioral treatment. Rahman enjoys learning about new advancements in virtual reality technology.