New VR Glove Uses Muscle-Like Chambers To Simulate Touch

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New VR gloves designed by engineers
at UC San Diego
employ “soft robotics” to deliver tactile
feedback to the wearer as they touch and interact with virtual
objects.

The system is designed to mimic the movement and sensation of
muscle with a a component called a McKibben Muscle. The
glove is structured in a layer of latex chambers, surrounded on
the surface by braided muscles. The entire glove — including
the muscles — is connected to a circuit board, and as you
interact with virtual objects, the gloves inflate and deflate
to replicate pressure. It’s a finely tuned process designed to
give you the sensation you’re actually lifting and touching
objects, just like you would in the real world.

In theory, the gloves could paired with other technologies
like a Leap Motion sensor to simulate a wide range of
activities.

“This is a first prototype but it is surprisingly effective,”
Professor Michael Tolley says on the UC San Diego
website. “Our final goal is to create a device that
provides a richer experience in VR…but you could imagine it
being used for surgery and video games, among other
applications.”

This type of technology has been used in similar ways before —
though not exactly in the muscle structure described above. The
Kor-FX and Hardlight Suit, for example, are VR-ready vests that
allow you to “feel”

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