Engineers at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) have developed a new type of VR glove that enables users to ‘feel’ objects in the virtual world through tactile feedback. Most all VR gloves on the market let people touch VR objects via vibrations or haptic feedback, and while they are better than nothing, they kind of limit the experience, like using a PS4 controller over time and having that feeling fade after prolonged use.
The KIST engineers detail how they designed the VR glove in a paper titled, “Pneumatic actuator and flexible piezoelectric sensor for soft virtual reality glove system,” which employs a series of sensors and soft silicone that generate force when grabbing or touching something in VR space. The glove manipulates a virtual hand in digital space using a set of piezoelectric sensors and soft pneumatic actuators.
Those sensors, eleven in all, are placed on thumb, index, and middle finger, and when squeezed or touched, sends an electrical pulse to the silicone actuators. Those actuators then inflate with air, changing its shape depending on the amount of electrical current.
The touching and movement data from the sensors is sent to an ‘interface board’ housed on the forearm of the user and then passed on to a computer system that translates it into finger-joint angles and hand movements in VR. The user’s brain is then ‘tricked’ into thinking they are holding or touching an object. Though the VR glove is currently in the prototype phase, the engineers state that the device could be linked to any VR gaming engine for more immersive gameplay, or even for scientific experiments in a VR setting.