Technology 3 min read

New Electronic Gloves Allow Users to Sense Virtual Objects

Korean engineers designed electronic gloves that allow users to interact and sense objects in virtual reality environments.

Image Credit: Scientific Reports

Image Credit: Scientific Reports

A Korean team has designed electronic gloves that could allow its user to interact with virtual objects.

While this is hardly the first time we’re seeing an attempt at reproducing texture in VR, this is a bit different. Not only does it allow the wearer to manipulate a virtual hand, but the person can also pick up an object in virtual reality and feel the shape.

Are you wondering how they made it possible? Well, it’s because of two things: sensors and actuators.

Electronic Gloves for Sensing Virtual Objects

As you may have guessed, the sensor detects the movement and sends the motion information to the VR.

The researchers placed a total of 11 sensors on the thumb, index, and middle fingers using a silicone adhesive. That way, it could easily detect movements in these areas.

For the sensors itself, the team used piezoelectric technology materials that produce an electric charge when a wearer makes squeezing movements.

With every bend or flick of a finger, the sensors produce a measurable electric impulse, which the software translates into a command. It then transmits this command via Bluetooth into a virtual space for interconnection with a virtual hand.

Touching Virtual Objects

The electronic glove’s actuators consist of a smooth little air bubble encased in a thin silicone skin, and it actuates through electrostatic attraction.

When an electric current passes through the silicon, it changes its shape. As a result, the air becomes forced into a tighter space that pops up.

And as the signal varies, so does the height of the bubble in the fingertips. This tricks the user’s hand into thinking that it’s actually touching or even holding something.

In their publication in Scientific Reports, the researchers wrote:

“Without additional equipment, this glove senses and transmits hand movements and provides haptic feedback. The mounted actuator is flexible and provides very fast reaction rates. Also, we show the performance test of the glove used in VR.”

Testing Lightweight Virtual Reality Electronic Gloves

Image Credit Scientific Reports

For the test, the authors used a virtual knight from an electronic chessboard.

The actuators expanded appropriately to mimic the physical dimension of the chess piece. So, not only could the researchers pick up the knight, but they could also hold, and feel it.

As for how the whole system works, it involves sensors, actuators, as well as gloves and interface board with software. Here’s the breakdown.

When a wearer moves to pick up a virtual object, the sensors in the glove notes the finger movement and sends the data to a software program via Bluetooth. The program then recreates the movement of the virtual hand on a screen.

The potential use of this tech extends beyond a novelty toy. It could make learning software more immersive and virtual scientific experiments more informative. And yes, we would have more realistic VR games too.

“We expect that our developed glove will be used in several ways by linking with various VR software,” the researchers concluded.

Read More: Smartglasses and Truly Wireless Headbuds are Making 3D Virtual Reality Possible

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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