Facebook Meta unveiled a magical meta-universe hardware: a glove

There is still some distance behind the intubation, but the virtual world has rushed towards us. 

Facebook Meta unveiled a magical meta-universe hardware: a glove

You still can’t wear the high-tech virtual reality gloves of Facebook (now called Meta), but it is not far from the realization of this technology. 

The “birth” of Meta was accompanied by Zuckerberg’s infinite yearning for the virtual world and meta-universe. But the company’s name change is not a whim. In the past seven years, Facebook has been working on developing a new dimension of human-computer interaction -a haptic glove that can reproduce the tactility of grasping objects or touching different surfaces. 

Recently, Meta released this glove to the media for the first time. The device and other wearable technologies have been regarded as the future of VR and AR interaction. 

Meta prototype gloves cost about $ 5,000 in each hand refers to about 15 ridge inflatable plastic sheet, known actuators (Actuator), is disposed in a position of tactile interaction bonded wearer palm side of a finger And on your fingertips. The glove is also a VR controller. The white mark on the back of the hand allows the camera to track the movement of the fingers in space, and the internal sensor can capture the way the wearer’s fingers bend. 

Facebook Meta unveiled a magical meta-universe hardware: a glove

When you put on your gloves and enter the VR or AR world, the complex control system on this tool will adjust the inflation and create realistic pressure on your hands. If you touch a virtual object with your fingertips, you will also feel a specific touch. If you grab the virtual object, the actuator on your finger will harden, creating a sense of damping. These sensations work together with visual and audio interactions to create the illusion of physical contact with objects. 

This technology draws on recent developments in the field of soft robotics, replacing bulky motors with miniature air valves. Since acquiring the startup Oculus VR in 2014, Meta has been studying how to make the virtual environment touchable. It developed the first prototype of a glove in 2015-a finger with a single actuator. 

Michael Abrash, head of Reality Labs, said that the initial experience was to put on a VR helmet and try to touch a plate in the virtual world, combining images, sounds and the touch of rough ceramics. “I saw the plate, saw my fingers rubbing the plate, heard the sound, the scratching sound, and felt the vibration in my hand. This is the sensation of fingers sliding on the porcelain plate.” Abrash said. 

Analog haptics is not a new field. We combine VR with something as simple as controller vibration, which can also make people feel more like touching objects. In addition to Meta, many companies are already developing wearable devices that can track the user’s hand or provide tactile sensation, and some even Can integrate the feeling of temperature. 

Meta’s direction is to introduce haptic gloves to the mass market in a form that other companies cannot . Most haptic device manufacturers sell specialized products for military, industrial, or academic institutions. In contrast, Meta is committed to launching the Quest VR system for more consumers, which is an important part of its investment of billions of dollars to build a “meta universe” that integrates VR and AR. 

If the tactile glove system finally goes on sale, Meta will ensure that the system can run on its own virtual reality system Quest, and encourage application developers to use it. 

In the vision of Reality Labs, gloves are one of the multiple controller methods for glasses and earphones in the future. In addition, there are more lightweight solutions based on electromyography (EMG), which is a kind of A system that reads nerve signals on the arm and converts them into digital inputs. Meta acquired CTRL-Labs, an EMG wristband company, in 2019. The EMG team worked separately from the haptic design team. 

“Douglas Engelbart and Xerox PARC are the only time that fundamentally changed the way we interact with the digital world,” Abrash said-referring to the invention of the mouse in the 1970s and the design of Alto desktop computers. Most computers are still used today. Following this paradigm. “AR glasses will achieve another revolution. You won’t be walking around with a keyboard and mouse. You don’t need to take out your phone to interact with them.” For some tasks, you may need a simple wristband, and sometimes you need it. A more complete touch. 

However, there are still many obstacles to producing tactile gloves that consumers can use. 

On the one hand, the team hopes to substantially increase the density of glove actuators, from dozens to hundreds or even thousands within a few years. Now, gloves can provide a sense of the contours of objects, but they can’t let you distinguish the subtle differences between the surface of the material-it can only rely on audio and image brain compensation. 

“You can pet a dog, but you don’t feel that you are touching the fur,” said Reality Labs engineer Katherine Healy. “You need high-density drivers to really get that feeling, and current gloves can’t do that.” Although Meta may not prioritize specific textures like fur, it hopes that gloves can produce more varieties. A higher quality feel. 

On the other hand, the glove also needs to be reduced in size. The prototype of the Meta glove is smaller than the Nintendo Power Glove in the 90s, but this is far from enough. Healy believes that the device needs to be light enough to make people feel that they can interact with the real world and virtual world normally, and it needs to be completely wireless instead of relying on tethers as they do now. 

Facebook Meta unveiled a magical meta-universe hardware: a glove

To complicate matters, tactile gloves need to fit the wearer’s skin accurately. This may require designing a different fit version for each buyer. This may require technologies such as 3D knitting to produce fabrics in customized size numbers. Then there are some practical problems, such as how to clean this high-tech glove-the current cleaning method is to wipe it carefully with alcohol. However, clothing is generally washed, so Healy said: “We want to be able to make a glove that can be washed. This is part of our vision.” 

If this tactile glove is commercialized, it will face the same privacy and security challenges as other wearable devices that collect biometric information. The R&D team analyzed the use of technologies such as EMG wristbands to type on the keyboard and said that this is rarely described as a potential threat. But wearable technology can finely analyze people’s body movements, and even basic typing patterns can predict diseases such as Parkinson’s. Meta will need to develop policies to manage the data that leaves the user’s device and who can access it. 

Currently, the research team is trying to find out how true VR touch is. Abrash said: “The sense of touch gloves one interesting thing is that it audiovisual content different, we can not accurately then now is now reality.” The most visually advanced screen can render a very realistic images, acoustic hearing can catch people talking feature. But Meta cannot actually make gloves that can prevent human hands from passing through the virtual table, but must find a way to convince users and accept the position of the table. Even the virtual table objectively feels more like jelly than hardwood. VR is “a new physical world in which nothing is a large-scale solid.” 

Abrash also said: “In my opinion, if the tactile gloves work, you can pet a dog, of course a virtual dog. The experience will be slightly different, but it will be very real in terms of emotion and experience.” 

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