We mostly think of virtual reality as having to do with our visual and auditive senses – shortly put, haptic feedback technology adds another dimension to the experience by inducing a sense of touch. The idea of being able to reach out and feel the surface texture of objects in a virtual world is not new (we saw a very early glove prototype about 20 years ago), but developing convincing hardware is far more challenging than you may think.
First things first: gloves.
The challenge is producing a sensation of touch within a glove that can simulate both the sensation of force resistance and texture of material. One way to solve this may be using air pressure – tech startup HaptX revealed a prototype glove last year which does just this. The surface of your hand is divided into “haptic pixels”, which are small, inflatable air pockets lined on the inside of the glove. Each “pixel” can then be activated, which inflates the air pocket and applies a force to this specific point on your hand. This way, if the “pixel” density is high enough, the glove can effectively simulate the sensation of touch.
If you want to learn more about HaptX, you can watch a short presentation video here: