Motion capture systems, like those used for CGI in movies or for body-tracking in video games, often rely on cameras to monitor the angles of the joints in a human body. That works fairly well for those applications, because those system don’t need to be portable or particularly affordable. And, in most cases, they only need to track the position of a person’s head, torso, and limbs. Accurately tracking hand poses, however, has been much more difficult. Now at research team from ETH Zurich and New York University have developed a glove that can quickly, accurately, and affordably track hand poses using just stretch sensors.
While gesture-sensing gloves do already exist, most are expensive, bulky, and only measure relatively few degrees of freedom. This glove resembles a thick latex glove, and is comfortable to wear. It can also be manufactured at low costs using fabrication methods and tools that are readily-available today. Most importantly, it can provide very accurate measurements for the entire hand, including finger positions and angles. That makes it ideal for virtual reality gaming, robotics, biomedical applications, and anything else that requires accurate hand motion capture.
The gloves are constructed by layering two laser-cut flexible silicone circuits. The points where the two circuits touch become capacitive stretch sensors at 44 points. As the glove is stretched by movements, the resistance across those sensors changes in a detectable manner. Those circuits are then surrounded by elastic textile to form wearable gloves. Those gloves are comfortable, and very flexible.
The readings from the sensors are then calibrated using traditional motion capture technology normally used for bare hands. After calibration, the glove performs much better than any other on the market. Even if another user starts wearing the same glove, it still performs very well. But, with some simple calibrations that don’t require the motion capture system, the glove becomes even more accurate for the new user. That makes these gloves ideal for commercial development.