Meta wants to bring the sense of touch to the Metaverse. In a blog post, the company shows the current state of research.
The goals of the research team could not be more ambitious: the data glove of the future must, on the one hand, accurately record the movements of the hand and fingers and, on the other hand, offer haptic feedback. nuanced that simulates the pressure, surface texture and vibration of virtual objects.
All this under the following conditions: the glove must be soft, light, flexible, comfortable and durable, look stylish, adapt to a wide range of hands and be affordable for consumers. As you can see, the list of requirements is long.
To build this glove for future virtual reality and augmented reality applications, Reality Labs research director Sean Keller has spent the past seven years building a team several hundred professionals installation. They need to enable breakthroughs and new technologies and plan for them 10 to 15 years in the future.
New search fields
A new blog post sheds light on the current state of meta-search. The team identified three main tasks. The first is realistic feelingthat is, the sensation of feeling digital objects.
To this end, the team has developed innovative pneumatic and electroactive actuators that generate resistance using air pressure and change their shape and size using electrical impulses. The relevant research areas are called microfluidics and soft robotics. The advantage over traditional mechanical actuators is that they do not generate heat, are relatively light, flexible and energy efficient and could one day be worn all day.
In order to optimally control the new actuators, Meta develops the first microfluidic chip. Among other things, it controls which valves open how much air is let in or out.
Meta wants to hack the senses
The second challenge is completely new Rendering pipeline for haptics to be developed, which is able to tell the texture of the surface of the glove, the weight and the hardness of the virtual objects. This includes a physics engine that determines the direction, strength, and spatial location of physical forces acting on the hand.
The third major challenge that emerged later is how to create the feeling of physical resistance despite being able to reach virtual objects. The team is looking for answers in perception research and here in particular in brain performance, some very different combine conflicting sensory information into a coherent whole.
“Our brains are good at mixing a little haptic signal, a little visual signal and a little auditory signal and create the illusion of holding an object,” explains meta-researcher Sophie Kim. The idea is that the glove helps here and there and complements the brain to create a feeling of resistance.
Data gloves need new plastics
On the materials side, the team is researching new plastics that are inexpensive to produce and “smart textiles” that have particular sensory and electrical properties. altered at the molecular level will be. The goal is to one day be able to make soft gloves from these materials.
“Today, the gloves are individually made by skilled engineers and technicians who fabricate the subsystems and assemble the gloves largely by hand,” says meta-researcher Katherine Healy. “We use semi-automated processes where we can, but mass-producing such gloves requires the invention of new manufacturing processes.”
The company believes that the large-scale research and its breakthroughs could one day benefit other industries and applications, such as medicine.
There’s still a long way to go
There is still a lot of work to do at the moment: the videos show that the glove is significantly lighter and more flexible than comparable products like the haptic gloves from HaptX, but that it is still far from being a suitable accessory for daily use. Cables and wires protrude from the glove, which are likely to be connected to a compressor or the like. You won’t want to lug it around with you.
You can read the full blog post on Tech@Facebook. This is the third and last article of this year. Meta Future Search Preview should give. Here are the summaries of the first two articles:
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