Reach out and touch a rain cloud.
Standing in front of a tiny farm house diorama, I reached out my hand and brushed it through a bundle of golden brown wheat sprouting from the ground. I could feel every blade of grain run across the surface of my hand.
I then extended out my hand as a cautious fox jumped up to take a cozy position in the palm of my hand. I felt every tiny step he took on the surface of my skin.
Then a mini rain cloud appeared, gently releasing rain drops on the farm below. With one hand, I grabbed the cloud and let the rain drops fall on my other. The palm of my hand was caressed with what felt like tiny droplets. A strange massaging sensation, it left me with a giant smile from ear to ear.
This is the promise of HaptX, a haptic technology company, that has unveiled their HaptX Gloves Development Kit. I was able to get an early preview of the industrial-grade product that is looking to empower VR developers to create simulations with realistic touch feedback and natural interaction.
HaptX Gloves bring advanced simulation to VR and they aren’t for the general consumer. Instead the HaptX Gloves are targeted to larger industrial corporate clients looking to deploy virtual training solutions that require force feedback and sub-millimeter precision. Still no word yet on pricing.
In addition to the whimsical demo I tried of the farm house, HaptX has also created hands-on demos for training firefighters and a glimpse into how automotive companies could use the gloves to showcase design in a more immersive environment.
The HaptX Gloves Development Kit includes two gloves, each featuring 130 tactile actuators that provide realistic touch across the hand and fingertips. When combined with a VR headset, HaptX Gloves hope to revolutionize human-machine interaction, enabling users to feel countless virtual objects with unprecedented realism.
“With HaptX Gloves, leading automotive and aerospace companies can touch and interact with their vehicles before they are built, radically reducing time and cost for design iterations,” said Jake Rubin, Founder and CEO of HaptX. “Industrial and government organizations can deploy virtual training solutions that build real muscle memory, providing a safe, cost-effective, and flexible alternative to live training.”
“Realistic touch is the missing link for many enterprise VR applications,” said Jason Welsh, managing director in Accenture’s Extended Reality practice. “We are particularly interested in how HaptX’s precise motion tracking and realistic touch can help enhance the effectiveness of immersive learning solutions for our clients.”
While indeed these gloves look straight out of a sci-fi horror thriller film, in the short preview I was able to experience, you couldn’t help but think about where realistic and immersive haptic technology is headed in the future.
The HaptX Gloves Development Kit makes its worldwide debut October 3, 2018 at the Future of Storytelling Summit in New York City and the GeekWire Summit in Seattle.
Disclosure: The HaptX launch trailer was filmed at VRScout’s mixed reality studio.
Image Credit: Az Balabanian