Zuckerberg shows Meta gloves that help wearer feel virtual objects
In a new video, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg can be seen feeling objects with a technology being developed so the sense of touch can be incorporated into the metaverse. The "haptic gloves," shown in the video, are outfitted with hundreds of actuators to enable the wearer to virtually roll dice, play Jenga and chess, fist-bump, and "feel" textures of the virtual objects they touch.
Why does it matter?
- Since virtual and computer-generated worlds were conceptualized, sense of sight and hearing were immediately available and a visual mode of communication was established.
- However, to date, the virtual worlds lack the sense of touch and smell. With this innovation of haptic gloves, the metaverse could unlock the gateway to tangible virtual textures, sensations, impacts, and vibrations. This would make virtual environments more immersive.
Zuckerberg tries out the haptic glove
Meta wants to invent the future of AR/VR interaction
The haptic glove project is being developed by a Reality Labs Research team "focused on inventing the future of interaction in augmented and virtual reality." Meta admitted that it is still in the early stages of research but it hopes to, one day, pair the gloves with a VR headset for an enhanced immersive experience in the metaverse.
Reality Labs taking the all hands on deck approach, literally
In a blog post about the scientific research that the gloves entailed, Meta listed five areas where the boundaries were pushed to create the gloves. Perceptual Science combines audio-visual and haptic experiences for convincing feedback and Soft Robotics was used to create tiny actuators reliant on airflow for functioning while allowing for more actuators on each glove.
Meta is pushing envelope of science to develop haptic gloves
Additionally, Meta claims it is developing the world's first microfluidic processor to control the airflow that moves the actuators that deliver haptics. Understandably, a hand tracking system is also in the pipeline so the actuators know when to deliver the haptic feedback. The instructions for firing the actuators are given by the haptic rendering engine based on its understanding of the hand tracking data.
Glove can 'mimic the tug of gravity'
Meta proudly claims, "A haptic glove can even convince the wearer's perceptual system that it's feeling an object's weight, by gently pulling on the skin of the wearer's fingers with the actuators to mimic the tug of gravity." Despite these path-breaking innovations, the company notes that it cannot yet recreate sensations of real-world physics but efforts are ongoing.
Project started as a moonshot, but becoming increasingly feasible: Meta
For now, there is no information on Meta's plans for the glove and the possibility of a sale to the public. All we hope is that such technology doesn't eventually become a forgotten prototype. "Our haptic glove project started as a moonshot, but it's increasingly feasible as we continue to innovate and complete research," Meta said.