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With Sensing Gloves, Immersive VR Is At Our Fingertips

Virtual reality is an interactive, immersive experience, with incredible scope in the areas of entertainment, education and training. Putting on a VR headset lets us instantly transport to another world, but with that headset alone, all we can do is look around. To be able to reach out and grab an object, we’re going to need some virtual hands!

With our virtual hands, we can do things like turn a door handle, pull a rope or pick up and interact with virtual objects like we do in the real world. We can also use pinch and flick gestures we’re already good at from our use of touch screen technology. I think most would agree that using our hands instead of a controller creates a greater feeling of immersion, and helps to make the virtual experience feel more real.

To create our virtual hands, we first have to capture their motion precisely.

Camera MoCap systems enabled by computer vision algorithms are great as they can capture the motion of the whole body and even map the room in three dimensions. There are a few issues, though; the intricate movements of fingers can’t always be captured precisely, especially when the hands are close to the body, obscured by objects or in a blind spot. Another drawback in using camera-based systems alone is there is no way of incorporating haptic feedback.

Haptic feedback is a way to have tactile interaction with virtual objects by simulating the sense of touch.

An excellent way to capture the motion of the hands and fingers is to wear gloves containing devices such as stretch sensors, accelerometers, and gyros. Stretch sensors are soft and flexible to allow the subtle movements of the fingers to be precisely captured. A major benefit of sensing gloves is they permit the fingers to be monitored at all times and avoid the problem of becoming obscured from vision. Gloves also give the option to include haptic feedback by adding devices that apply stimuli such as pulsing, vibration, or even tiny actuators to targeted fingers.

Stretch sensors are very simple to use, and require very little calibration.

A great option is combining a camera to track the motion of the body with gloves that use stretch sensors to capture the fine motion of the fingers. The benefits of developing sensing gloves now will payoff even more in the future as the study of tactile interaction in VR evolves. It’s an exciting time for those of working in the VR industry who are paving the way for future generations for whom virtual worlds will be a natural extension of their lives.

For more information about incorporating gloves with stretch sensors into your VR project, you can get in touch here.


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