Virtual reality glove allows wearers to grasp and 'feel' digital objects which could revolutionise gaming and remote surgery

  • Designed by Korean researchers, the glove could go on sale within a few years
  • Feedback comes as actual pressure rather than the vibration of most VR gloves
  • Yet the expanding silicone design has no need for bulky and heavy motors
  • The developers have demonstrated the glove picking up a virtual chess piece

A glove that lets users 'feel' virtual reality objects as if they were the real thing is set to revolutionise gaming.

Allowing players to touch — as well as see — the action had been a development that virtual reality technology has until now failed to satisfactorily overcome.

Existing glove-like systems that provide physical feedback had either provided less-than-realistic vibrations or have been bulky and impractical.

Korean scientists have come up with an alternative — a fine and lightweight mitt made from silicone that expands to allow users to experience pressure.

With the glove, gamers can interpret the size and shape of a virtual object — even though such are just computer-generated simulations.

A glove that lets users 'feel' virtual reality objects as if they were the real thing is set to revolutionise gaming.

Designed by Korea Institute of Science and Technology roboticist Youngsu Cha and colleagues, the VR glove has sensors on the thumb, index and middle fingers and can fake the sensation of handling, prodding or stroking a host of different materials.

The device could be used for a myriad of applications — from games, to remote surgery and even creating hyper-realistic recreations of ancient civilisations that users could tangibly interact with.

The glove might even be used to enhance the experience of virtual reality porn.

'There are many gloves for virtual reality. However, their feedback is based on vibration. Mine is based on pressing,' said Dr Cha.

'For example, when a user grabs a virtual object, while conventional ones give vibration feedback, the proposed device pushes the skin of the finger tip.'

'It is close to the real situation.'

There are other glove designs that offer pressure feedback, Dr Cha noted.

All the designs work by using sensors that detect the wearer’s movements and actuators that provide physical feedback via mechanical stimuli, such as vibration.

'But their actuators are motorised and have a rigid structure. So, they are bulky and heavy.'

'Although previously developed actuators were able to accurately reproduce the texture of virtual objects, they could not provide information about their shape,' said Dr Cha.

'Ours is lightweight — enabling the wearer to feel the actual shape of an array of virtual objects.'

Dr Cha says his model should be available to buy on the high street 'within a few years.'

With the glove, gamers can interpret the size and shape of a virtual object — even though such are just computer-generated simulationsWith the glove, gamers can interpret the size and shape of a virtual object — even though such are just computer-generated simulations

The device allows the wearer to manipulate a virtual hand to pick up an object in virtual reality and feel its shape.

As you move your hand towards the virtual object, your finger movements are detected by sensors in the glove.

Data from the sensors are transferred via Bluetooth to a software programme that recreates the corresponding movements of a virtual hand on a screen.

Taking hold of the virtual object triggers switches, or actuators, made out of a soft and lightweight form of silicone developed by Dr Cha and colleagues.

The switches receive a signal from the simulated environment which causes air inside them to move, expanding the silicone in their centre.

'When the virtual finger touches the virtual object, the actuators are activated and give the tactile feedback to the real fingertip,' said Dr Cha.

'The glove is made of silicone rubber material and integrated with the sensors and actuators such that users can wear them conveniently.'

'This device was tested in a virtual chess board program, wherein the user picked up virtual chess pieces successfully.'

The user's fingertips sense the pressure of the expanded silicone as if they were touching the virtual object itself.

'This allows them to feel its shape, pick it up and hold it in virtual reality,' Dr Cha explained.

'It may be used in different virtual reality environments by linking it with different software.'

The researchers describe their glove in a paper in the journal Scientific Reports.

WHAT IS VIRTUAL REALITY?

Virtual reality is a computer-generated simulation of an environment or situation. 

  • It immerses the user by making them feel like they are in the simulated reality throughimages and sounds
  • For example, in VR, you could feel like you're climbing a mountain while sat at home 

Virtual reality is the term used to describe A three-dimensional, computer generated environment which can be explored and interacted with by a person. 

That person becomes part of this virtual world or is immersed within this environment and whilst there, is able to manipulate objects or perform a series of actions.

How is virtual reality achieved? 

Virtual reality is usually implemented using computer technology. There are a range of systems that are used for this purpose, such as headsets, omni-directional treadmills and special gloves. 

These are used to actually stimulate our senses together in order to create the illusion of reality.

Video can be accessed at source link below.

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By Ian Randall
(Source: dailymail.co.uk; July 18, 2019; https://tinyurl.com/y6tkvspe)
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