Exciting Tech to Help Us Touch and Feel in VR/AR

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a female engineer is trying HaptX gloves and looking at virtual car design

Exciting Tech to Help Us Touch and Feel in VR/AR

Remember getting that first buzzing jolt out of a Rumble Pak? The science behind that kind of tech is called Haptics and it’s what we’re looking at today. But wow, how times have changed!

 

A realistic sense of touch is one of the biggest pieces of the full immersion puzzle, completing an experience that involves any kind of contact; lifting, carrying, moving, and feeling impact or pressure. From gloves to a full body suit, hardware creators have been busily chipping away at this mountain – and not without progress.

 

And current haptic research isn’t limited to VR. Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality will be utilizing touch too. Imagine being able to feel the fabric sample you’re laying over your couch! Or taking a moment to pet that surreal creature conjured by MR!

 

Haptic technology will also find its way to places like an operating theatre, a hazardous industrial site, or even the unexplored depths of the ocean.

 

While challenges of cost, portability, and power consumption are issues that R&D is grappling with, we know they will be overcome in time – and the rewards will be epic.

 

Ultrahaptics Touch and Stratos

 

Leading the way with some of the most advanced ultrasonic mid-air experiences, Ultrahaptics offers two development kits. The Touch is a starter-level kit focused on basic interactions like notifications and alerts. The Stratos is a high-end package enabling creation of immersive tactile content including 3D shapes. Although this sonic tech doesn’t feel 100% real, it removes the need for gloves or other wearables.

 

 

Foldaway Haptics Touch Joystick

 

This award-winning foldable haptic interface is a super tiny origami-style joystick. The device provides a sense of stiffness, contour, texture, and force perception. Foldaway sees this tech being incorporated into smartphones, tablets, laptops, and beyond.

 

 

HaptX Haptic Gloves

 

These gloves create “high-fidelity tactile feedback” that makes everything from rain, wind, and wheat to knobs, buttons, and fur feel realistic with a stunning degree of sensitivity. The HapticX gloves are shown below in full immersion with the HTC Vive.

 

 

Disney Force Jacket

 

To achieve completely believable sensory immersion, we will need the ability to perceive touch from head to toe. Naturally this quest started with our hands, but has since moved on to body suits, like the one being developed by Disney Research. The Force Jacket uses inflatable air pockets to maintain a feeling of pressure and/or vibration on the body. The speed, force, and duration vary as needed for more accurate simulations.

 

 

Teslasuit

 

Finally, for the full body experience, we come to the Teslasuit – which we first mentioned in our CES 2018 recap. It operates based on electrical stimulation with motion capture and climate control. Once this suit is available next year, we would love to step inside and try it out.

 

 

Stambol visionaries are happy to answer questions about haptics, their implications, and what it all means for your business.

 

Image Credit: HaptX