Although the idea of virtual reality has been around for a while, its seen renewed interest in last few years thanks to the development of the Oculus Rift. These VR systems provide incredibly convincing visual and audio stimulus, which can make a person feel like they are really in the virtual world. Something which has been missing is the sense of touch. For that matter, the sense of smell is also missing from current VR systems, but we may have to wait awhile longer before that technology gets developed. But the sense of touch will soon be available for VR systems.
Engineering students from Rice University are working on the Hands Omni glove, which will provide haptic feedback, and give a greater sense of realism when interacting with objects in a VR environment. The ability to reach out to an object and feel it in your hand will be a valuable addition to current VR technology. Thor Walker, one of the members of the development team, had this to say about the glove, “…you can hook this up to a video game and when you reach out and grab a virtual object, it feels like you’re actually grabbing that object.”
The glove works by using air to inflate bladders underneath the fingers, which will expand and contract to provide the appropriate level of pressure on the user’s fingers. The glove is wireless, so a user’s hand movements are not restricted. The team took great effort to keep the glove lightweight, so that users wouldn’t be bothered by its presence. The glove only weighs 350 grams, which is less than a pound. According to one team member, “The user will hardly know it’s there.”
This certainly looks like a promising development in the field of VR, which is sure to further enhance the experience. For more information, check out this video posted by the development team.
Are you excited for the possibilities this glove will introduce to VR, or do you think it won’t change the experience significantly? Leave your comment below.