If there’s one accessory VRFocus would love to see properly working and available on the consumer market it’s a data glove for virtual reality (VR). The idea has existed in various forms over the years, with enterprise models available but nothing available to buy for the average Joe. It’s a device that’s a secondary symbol of what VR is about – after the headset – having appeared in numerous films as the defacto interface for interacting with virtual worlds. At every tech event there’s usually some sort of glove available – remember the CaptoGlove, ManusVR or the rather chunky VRgluv – and CES 2018 was no different, with BeBop Sensors showcasing the Forte Wireless Data Glove.
Bebop Sensors isn’t in the habit of making hardware of this ilk, as the name implies the company specialises in making sensors and more importantly, bend sensors like the ones found in the glove. What Bebop Sensors has done is create a prototype glove that showcases its bend sensors as without it the sensors just look a bit rubbish and can’t actually do much.
Fitted into the glove and bam, there’s some interactive life to be hand. Putting the glove on takes seconds, a strap goes around the wrist and each finger has a nice little pocket to go in. From the images the glove may not look that amazing – it is a prototype after all – but it doesn’t have to, all it needs to do is work, and that it does very well. Those little pockets for your fingers to go in aren’t just there to keep them warm and snug, they have haptics built-in to provide sensory feedback.
The first part of the demo involves strumming a guitar, showcasing the bend sensors flexibility and accuracy, with each finger being tracked to a very precise degree. Thus allowing VRFocus to create a less than tuneful noise. Then on-screen there was a brick wall which could be scratched with the finger tips, giving a rough sensation from the haptics. Lastly Bebop Sensors wisely assumed that most people wearing a VR glove will want to shoot something so a gun appeared on screen to fire off a few rounds. Even in a busy, wireless hostile environment like CES the gloves performed admirably, with the trigger finger action looking almost one-to-one – Bebop claims a 6ms response time.
Also on show but slightly off topic, there was a couple of touch pads on display – one table-based one floor-based – which had some more sensors built-in. These sensors could detect weight and pressure, so as you’ll see in the video below, when stepped on the software would detect the exact point with the most pressure.
In fact, Bebop Sensors demo of its Forte Wireless Data Glove was that good it’s a shame to know it’ll never come to market. With a battery life that lasts for days, it would’ve been great to test the gloves on a title that’s more interactive – Robo Recall would be top of the list – however it wasn’t meant to be. The company will be working with glove manufacturers to implement its bend sensors into their products, so one day you might be able to shoot some zombies using its tech, just not yet.