One of the biggest obstacles to full VR immersion is being able to feel and control things. Currently, you have to use some kind of controller that aims to mimic your hand but really doesn't, or you use a controller with some vibrations for mild haptic feedback. But it's just not same.
VRgluv hopes to change that with its new force feedback haptic gloves, now on Kickstarter for $399. The company was founded after CEO Chris Taylor brought an HTC Vive into the office and let his future co-founders try it out. They were captivated and soon started dreaming up ideas, eventually choosing a haptic gloves for VR were a hole that wasn't filled.
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Taylor, a self-confessed VR nut, demanded that they pack as many features as possible into the glove. It had to allow finger tracking, it had to have haptic feedback so you can feel what you're touching in the virtual world and it had to include sensitivity. Plus, it had to someone be compatible with multiple VR systems at the same time.
Taylor told Wareable that the team really loves hard challenges, so when they see a difficult challenge, like creating a haptic glove for VR with a bunch of hard-to-do features, it has "to go after it." One of those challenges was to allow wearers to feel an object in VR as if they were in the real world.
"When you pick up a virtual object, it actually physically stops your fingers in place," Steven Fullerton, chief marketing officer and co-founder, told us. "So what that means is when you're holding a virtual object it feels like you're holding it in your hand. Your fingers will not pass through that virtual object because the glove is physically stopping your fingers."
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Basically, the glove uses haptic feedback to recreate the shape of the object in your hand. If it's a ball, you'll be able to fully wrap your hand around the ball. If it's a block, you'll feel the pointed edges. It can even do more subtle, nuanced physical simulations, like feeling a ball roll off your hand. This, combined with force sensors in each finger that measure grip strength, is what separates VRgluv's haptic feedback from other haptic feedback systems, which are more similar to vibration motors in smartphones. Those force sensors also enable you to feel the difference between hard and soft objects, so if you have a squishy virtual object you can squish it, and if you have a hard virtual object you can't.
And then there's tracking, which uses Oculus Rift and HTC Vive technology to track your individual fingers. The glove comes with a couple of adaptors that you can swap in and out, and you can use them to attach either Oculus Touch, Vive controller or the Vive tracker. Voila, you're all ready to go. As for compatibility, Fullerton tells us the company is looking forward to working with developers on adding support for VRgluv into their apps and games.
An everlasting gobstopper of a question, truly. As of this writing, VRgluv is blowing past its fundraising goal of $100,000, garnering $190,000 and counting with 22 days to go. There is clearly a large segment of VR enthusiasts who want an extensive hand tracking solution, and VRgluv wants to provide that. The company told us that right now it's going for gaming enthusiasts and hardcore VR fans, but that it recognizes the technology could have more uses in other fields, like medical students training for surgeries or people looking to improve grip during physical therapy.
Fullerton tells us the majority of the money from the campaign will go straight into the VRgluv's production and manufacturing run, and that the company is hyper focused on the remaining 22 days of its campaign. It wants to listen to the feedback of its backers, and it wants to be able to deliver as many units as it can.
There's also the design, which looks like a slight big replica of Sauron's glove. It's big and bulky, and that may turn people off, but at the same time when you're in VR you're not looking at the devices adorned on your body. You're experiencing the VR, not admiring the design of your device.
The technology behind the VRgluv seems sound, and the company seems confident it has something big in that regard. The big question is whether it can keep up with the building demand. Fullerton says when the company was designing the VRgluv it was thinking about how it could scale to high demand. So if VRgluv can scale up to meet the burgeoning demand for its glove, it could be a sure bet.