Hands Omni Glove Lets Gamer "Feel" Virtual Objects

Hands Omni Glove Lets Gamer "Feel" Virtual Objects

The Hands Omni glove provides a way for gamers and others to "feel" objects in a virtual space using inflatable bladders.

With the advent of this new golden age of virtual reality, we've seen multiple different headsets from multiple different companies all promising to put you into your games. But is being in a game, looking around, and maybe having a walk, enough? Of course not. You've got to be able to do stuff. That's what video games are all about!

To that end, engineers at Rice University have invented something called the Omni Glove - a special virtual reality glove that actually lets you feel and interact with virtual objects as if they were sitting in your hand. Check out the video demonstration to the right.

"What we've made is a glove that uses air to inflate bladders underneath your fingers, so you can hook this up to a video game and when you reach out and grab a virtual object, it feels like you're actually grabbing that object," said mechanical engineering student Thor Walker.

The fingers feel pressure from bladders in the glove's fingertips that expand and contract as necessary. The team's agreement with its sponsor means the glove's underlying technology must remain under wraps, but they say programmers should find it fairly simple to implement the glove's protocols into their games and other projects.

That sponsor, by the way, is Virtuiux - the guys behind that Omni-directional treadmill we saw a few years ago.

Sounds like pretty exciting stuff, and like it would be a perfect companion controller for any of the VR headsets we've seen thus far.

Source: Rice University

Permalink

Omg i cannot believe it........that guys name is thor walker. what an awesome name. oh and the glove is cool to i guess.

Is it wrong I was thinking of a virtual "feeling" glove being used for something other than a hand before the page even loaded?

The perfect companion controller for any VR headset indeed.

In all seriousness though I do question the practicality of these "walking/feeling/looking" peripherals. Many games ask the player character to run and leap (even fly), perform complex or physically strenuous hand and arm movements, do the impossible like cast spells or plasmids, even transform into something inhuman. Creating devices that are naturally limited by the human range of motion and physical expression places barriers between the player and their character that regular controllers have been slowly evolving to eliminate for decades.

Everyone likes to joke about the brown shooters but seriously, if your hands are occupied with a plastic gun, your head blinds you to anything but the in-game interface, and your legs are occupied with running and hopping...how do you activate your exo-suit thrusters in advanced warfare? Do you just press the button on the side of your gun? Well, then you're just breaking the immersion in what is already a fairly grounded game at the cost of competitive performance.

I feel like these things are aimed at walking simulators and first person adventure games. Valid genres in their own right but hardly the way forward.

Calling it now; boobies. This'll be the death of the human race, we laughed when Futurama made the 'robosexual' joke, and yet it's happening!

MrHide-Patten:
Calling it now; boobies.

+1
Porn, you guys. Its going to be all about porn.
Its over, everybody can go home now and enjoy their last days within a functioning civilization. Gotta say is has been a fun ride.

47_Ronin:

MrHide-Patten:
Calling it now; boobies.

+1
Porn, you guys. Its going to be all about porn.
Its over, everybody can go home now and enjoy their last days within a functioning civilization. Gotta say is has been a fun ride.

+2
Humanity will be taken over by VR and boobs.
What a time to be alive.

Looks like another neat idea that will only be a gimmick in video games, that most games won't bother being patched for, but possibly a very useful piece of tech for other fields, like physical therapy, remote robot arm control, combat/police training sims, etc. I still remember reading few years back about that vest with air chambers that quickly filled to send a jolt through your torso to simulate getting hit.

I'm betting this only simulates the force of feeling objects, not textures. I'd bet somewhere, a lab is experimenting with a substance that can vary its texture via the applied voltage, but that technology is probably decades away from being both cheap enough and pliable/small to fit it a glove.

Also, *insert obligatory powerglove/The Wizzard reference here*.

I was woefully/blissfully unaware that there were bladders under my fingers. That would explain the sweaty palms at least.

Edit: Ohhh, they edited it so now my post makes no sense. Treachery, I tell you. Treachery!

Hairless Mammoth:
Also, *insert obligatory powerglove/The Wizzard reference here*.

Couldn't agree more.

You're welcome!

No joke, I had a dream about this exact thing a few weeks ago. All I could think about is how awesome it would be to have that in real life.

Being able to reach out towards a guard rail and actually feel it as you step down virtual stairs, tossing a virtual baseball in the air and feeling it hit the palm of your hand, etc.

It's so weird that the 90's obsession with virtual reality is becoming a real, honest-to-goodness technology we can play around with, and it's just around the corner.

Sure, we're a long way from plugging ourselves into little pods, Fallout style, but I take can the good with the bad.

Scrythe:
Being able to reach out towards a guard rail and actually feel it as you step down virtual stairs, tossing a virtual baseball in the air and feeling it hit the palm of your hand, etc.

You have hit on one issue that shall be constantly uploaded onto space youtube in the future. When you are engrossed in a game enough and feel that guard rail in your hand, your brain will think it is also safe to lean on it.

Ah, the future.

To boldly grope where no man has groped before!

Tatsuki:

Scrythe:
Being able to reach out towards a guard rail and actually feel it as you step down virtual stairs, tossing a virtual baseball in the air and feeling it hit the palm of your hand, etc.

You have hit on one issue that shall be constantly uploaded onto space youtube in the future. When you are engrossed in a game enough and feel that guard rail in your hand, your brain will think it is also safe to lean on it.

While you bring up a really good point, I'd like to have at least enough faith in my fellow man that the investment towards total immersion in VR would also include some kind of safety harness or enclosure. I mean, the Virtuix Omni already has a built-in ring to prevent someone from accidentally slipping off, so it's not that far into the realm of absurdity.

Scrythe:

Tatsuki:

Scrythe:
Being able to reach out towards a guard rail and actually feel it as you step down virtual stairs, tossing a virtual baseball in the air and feeling it hit the palm of your hand, etc.

You have hit on one issue that shall be constantly uploaded onto space youtube in the future. When you are engrossed in a game enough and feel that guard rail in your hand, your brain will think it is also safe to lean on it.

While you bring up a really good point, I'd like to have at least enough faith in my fellow man that the investment towards total immersion in VR would also include some kind of safety harness or enclosure. I mean, the Virtuix Omni already has a built-in ring to prevent someone from accidentally slipping off, so it's not that far into the realm of absurdity.

Have you not seen Jurassic Park? Stupidity finds a way.
When you get immersed I can also see people trying to jump on the omni directional treadmill, maybe trying to vault a car. Maybe chip some teeth on the safety rail teabagging a generic spec ops marine trooper desert rat walking meat brick.

Captcha: dogs and cats living together

UberPubert:
Is it wrong I was thinking of a virtual "feeling" glove being used for something other than a hand before the page even loaded?

The perfect companion controller for any VR headset indeed.

In all seriousness though I do question the practicality of these "walking/feeling/looking" peripherals. Many games ask the player character to run and leap (even fly), perform complex or physically strenuous hand and arm movements, do the impossible like cast spells or plasmids, even transform into something inhuman. Creating devices that are naturally limited by the human range of motion and physical expression places barriers between the player and their character that regular controllers have been slowly evolving to eliminate for decades.

Everyone likes to joke about the brown shooters but seriously, if your hands are occupied with a plastic gun, your head blinds you to anything but the in-game interface, and your legs are occupied with running and hopping...how do you activate your exo-suit thrusters in advanced warfare? Do you just press the button on the side of your gun? Well, then you're just breaking the immersion in what is already a fairly grounded game at the cost of competitive performance.

I feel like these things are aimed at walking simulators and first person adventure games. Valid genres in their own right but hardly the way forward.

It's a valid point, but it's worth considering how immersion-breaking standard controls actually are in VR.

While it might raise all the issues you've mentioned, when a VR headset manages to give you a feeling of presence in the environment, the illusion that you are actually there rather than just looking at a scene through a window, (which is the point of VR, otherwise why bother?),
That illusions shatters almost instantly when your means of interaction are indirect and unnatural.

There is already a night and day difference between using something like a razer hydra to control virtual hands, and just using a button to pick up items.

But above all, VR creates the desire to reach out, and touch things.
That was certainly my first reaction.
I saw a tree, and wanted to reach out and touch it.
So I did, reflexively...
But In virtual space I had sense of touch, and really not even hands or arms, so I felt my real arm pass through empty space while my eyes told me there should be something there, breaking the illusion.

Yes, this does create problems with doing activities a typical person struggles with (or worse, is outright impossible), but indirect actions and VR don't mix that well.

If that means avoiding 'superhuman' feats in VR environments, that may unfortunately be nessesary for a while.

There's no real way around that until reliable brain controlled input becomes a practical thing.
At which point many actions could be mapped to thought alone.

I think thinking of VR as natural extension of gaming is misleading.
The unique challenges and limitations lend it more the quality of a new medium, with new quirks and limitations, rather than as an extension of gaming. It just happens to share some underlying technology.
In the same way that TV broadcasts and console games do.
Or the difference between radio and TV, or even the less dramatic difference between TV and film.
Which overlap, but have unique issues that result in different things being made for both.

As a result of this I have serious doubts about the viability of games wit 'optional' VR modes, (or VR games, with optional traditional monitor/control support)
The differences and quirks between the two make me think trying to design one thing to be both will make something that is a worse experience for both media.

VR is VR, games are games. Any resemblance in technology or design just misleads everyone involved as to what actually makes for good experiences...

It's a start for sure, but their system is far too bulky doing those inflatable bladders with hydraulic links, with every upgrade they will have more and more bulk.
Never the less it's good that people are developing that idea, gets the ball rolling and more development on board to figure out something even better. I would personally go for electroshock because you can put any number of electrodes into a glove, or whole body suit for that matter, but stimulating only very specific senses is no small task.

 

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here