Haptics was a big thing at CES 2020 earlier this month with bHaptics demoing its Tactsuit system for virtual reality (VR) gamers while Teslasuit announced its new glove prototype – although there wasn’t one to actually demo. One company which has been working in the haptic glove field for some time is HaptX which was at the expo to showcase its new HaptX Development Kit (DK1) as well as discuss its latest collaborations.
Unlike other haptic gloves which use a range of mechanical and electromagnetic actuators to simulate the feeling of touch, the HaptX system is the only one to use utilise air via pneumatic actuators and microfluidic air channels. Hence why the gloves look so big and require extensive tubing to a near-silent mini-compressor which supplies the air.
Each glove has 130 microfluidic actuators across the palm, fingers and back of the hand, providing full haptic coverage. Alongside the haptics, HaptX also includes a force-feedback exoskeleton powered by the same microfluidic tech, so users can feel both the texture and physical shape of a digital object.
Naturally, this type of kit is being aimed toward various training use cases with the company demonstrating its recent collaboration with shadow Robot Company and SynTouch. On display was a haptic telerobotic system where the user could operate two robotic arms whilst getting sensory feedback to the extent that she could pick up individual cards. The idea is that no matter where someone is in the world, using HaptX they can operate these arms instinctively.
When it came to VR, HaptX had a new demo using an HTC Vive Pro where you could feel raindrops on your hand and other sensations. Take a look at our hands-on from CES 2020 to see what VRFocus thought of the gloves.
Whilst there VRFocus caught up with founder and CEO Jake Rubin to find out what the company has planned for the near future. As development of the DK1 system continues, VRFocus will keep you updated on the latest announcements.