Scientists from EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne) in Switzerland have designed a haptic feedback glove that allows you to touch and feel objects in the virtual world, which is an excellent accomplishment over using handheld controllers. This isn’t the first foray into using haptic gloves to interact with virtual objects, VRgluv, HaptX, and EXOS can accomplish the same feat (albeit with different tech); however they all feature an exoskeleton-style bulky platform, while EPFL’s DextrES glove is only 2mm thick and weighs only 8 grams per finger.
The team devised the DextrES based on an electrostatic clutch (or brake), which operates electrically but transfer torque mechanically. The glove material itself is made of nylon, while the break was created using thin elastic metal blades that are positioned over the tops of the fingers via 3D-printed articulated guides.
Those blades are separated by an electrical insulator, and when in contact with a virtual object, a voltage is applied between the blades and bond together (electrostatic attraction), blocking the movement of the fingers with 40 Newtons of force. Piezo actuators housed on the glove’s fingertips provide cutaneous feedback, while the breaks offer kinesthetic.
As it stands, the glove is powered externally by a thin cable and uses 200V (and a few milliwatts of power) to generate force — meaning, it’s conceivable to equip the glove with batteries, eliminating the need to be tethered. The researchers state that while the DextrES haptic feedback glove would be perfect for gaming, they could refine the technology for use in the medical field, enabling doctors to train in VR.