The current generation of VR controllers are very limited in enabling users to “feel” virtual objects. Bowstrings vibrate with tactile trembling, while guns recoil when firing bullets. Researchers from Skolkovo Institute of science and technology in Russia showed a wearable accessory called touchvr, which can exert force on the palm and apply tactile feedback to the fingers, so that users can feel the weight, texture, softness and sliding of the fingers.
Touchvr’s wearable device looks like iron man gloves: a circular deltatouch 3D force generator centered on the palm, plus a vibration motor connected to the thumb and fingers with a Velcro pad. Well equipped, the wearer can feel the force and sliding exerted by the palm, and combine the vibration from the palm to the fingertip to simulate the texture of the object. With the leap motion hand sensor and HTC vive Pro VR system, the opponent can track, so there is no need to hold other controllers.
Researchers are using several unity based VR applications to demonstrate the functions of touchvr, including virtual spiders moving on the wearer’s palm, bouncing football and pulsating dragon eggs. Simulating the feeling of touch has always been the goal of VR developers, and many different methods have been proposed. Super tactile will transmit vibration to your fingers through air, while tactile armbands and other vibration wearable devices have been deployed in limited tests.
Touchvr’s solution is much smaller and simpler than haptx gloves, Microsoft and torc controllers. Looking ahead, researchers are confident in how to expand the functions of touchvr, including adding Peltier components to generate thermal feedback and introducing interfaces into medical systems for rehabilitation and simulation.