29 Apr 2022 | Sam Sprigg
AWE Talks: How Touch Feedback Increases Your Effectiveness in VR
Virtual Reality

Welcome back to AWE Talks, our series that plucks the greatest hits from the vast AWE conference archive. We’re continuing our analysis of session footage from AWE USA 2021, but 2022's show is now not far off and will be upon us in June.

For this week's talk we look at how realistic touch feedback is able to help increase user effectiveness in Virtual Reality. Joe Michaels, Chief Revenue Officer at HaptX, goes into detail about how the HaptX Gloves DK2 are able to provide a deeper level of immersion for users in VR using their advanced haptics capabilities.

See the full video below along with quick-hit takeaways:

  • Many users interact with virtual objects in VR using either the controllers that came with their headset or through hand tracking technology. Both have their own different limitations, and it is important to instead think critically about touch, which Joe argues really matters in enterprise VR.
  • Touch Feedback is more than one sensation. It is a collection of touch modalities that include:
    • Tactile Feedback – the deformation and displacement of your skin when you come into contact with an object. It is the most important modality, as it is present in almost every touch interaction we have.
    • Force Feedback – movement or resistance applied to your musculo-skeletal system, and what lets you feel the location, shape and size of an object.
    • Vibration – effectively a sound wave that is making contact through your skin, typically through your fingerprints. 
    • Thermal – the perception of heat flux, which is hot, cold and everything in between, and is what lets you know that an object is warm or cold.
    • Pain – lets you know something is wrong.
  • Haptics is the science and technology of simulating touch feedback. But it includes all of the touch modalities.
  • HaptX approach uses Microfluidic Skin in order to achieve realistic haptics. The technology consists of a silicone skin that has compressed air pushed through it, which causes actuators to rise and fall in order to physically displace a user’s skin.
  • For HaptX’ first commercial product - the HaptX Gloves DK2 - there are 133 tactile actuators inside each glove.
  • The gloves also feature a force feedback mechanism that stops your hands in exactly the right spot to simulate force. The gloves can deliver 40lbs of resistive force per hand.
  • The gloves also include a magnetic motion tracking system that provides a 6DoF tracking per digit. So, 30DoF tracking per hand.
  • One way enterprise VR customers use HaptX gloves is to build real muscle memory in VR training - e.g. for surgical training or any manual skills training that involves using or feeling gauges, controls, switches, tools and more.
  • Another way customers use HaptX gloves is for design. From automakers and aircraft manufacturers, designers can physically feel their designs from the outset of the design process and save on having to make countless physical prototypes.
  • Finally, there is the opportunity for multi-user haptic experiences, where multiple users in VR can feel the same objects at the same time. As a result, haptics represent the future of teaching, collaboration, design reviews and more.
  • Outside of VR, HaptX gloves have uses for telerobotics – the operation of dextrous robot hands, from any distance.
  • HaptX is working with Verizon and other 5G providers to achieve the low latency required that will let users control robot hands from essentially any distance. 
  • Looking ahead, HaptX is spending a lot of time focusing beyond just the hands and on full body haptics experiences. The company has won government grants, agreed partnerships with equipment manufacturers, and is keeping its eyes on full body immersion with haptics.

HaptX will once again be exhibiting at this year's AWE USA 2022 taking place June 1-3 in Santa Clara, California. Make sure you don't miss out on experiencing their incredible haptic technology at their booth.
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