These Haptic Gloves Promise to Replace Controllers
Haptic gloves are typically used to provide tactile feedback in virtual reality and to complement the sticks and buttons in controllers. ContactGlove is looking to change that with a revolutionary new haptic glove that will serve as a controller.
ContactGlove is a haptic glove built with high-precision hand tracking and haptic feedback. It features a button input just like in the conventional virtual reality controllers. The haptic gloves cum VR controller also has compatibility with all SteamVR content, according to the manufacturer.
Conventionally, haptic technology is meant to make the immersive world tangible and increase the quality of the immersion. Haptic technology is already finding various industrial use cases. VW uses the Senseglove Nova haptic glove to cut costs in its assembly training. The Senseglove Nova haptic gloves are built with “brakes” that simulate counterpressure when gripped. They also generate a vibration to simulate the tactile sensation.
Another successful haptic glove product is HaptX which received a multimillion-dollar grant in September to develop innovative haptic products. HaptX now has a cheaper and improved version of pneumatic gloves known as HaptX Gloves G1. The current model can be ordered by business customers and comes with a mobile pneumatic backpack that costs from $5,495.
ContactGlove haptic glove is manufactured by a Tokyo-based startup called Diver-X. The startup recently launched a Kickstarter that raised $197,305 soon after it was launched. The Kickstarter campaign went on to raise $244,394 by December 22, 2022, 28 days after it closed.
Not only is the haptic glove a virtual reality control in the form of a glove but like other haptic gloves, it also provides tactile feedback when gripped. The gloves are built with “micro coils” consisting of wire coils that are tightly wound together. The shape memory alloy of the coils makes it possible for the finger elements to contract suddenly or to expand once more. This generates a feeling of pressure on the wearer’s fingers, simulating the touching of real objects.
The technology can even simulate a trigger, a fire button, or the stick inputs used in conventional virtual reality controllers. According to the manufacturer, ContactGlove is, primarily, a revolutionary virtual reality controller that is made in the form of a glove and which also offers haptic feedback. These haptic controller gloves are also built with high-precision hand tracking along with a button input like in the conventional virtual reality controllers.
According to an animation of the haptic glove controller, its emulation is unlike that of the ordinary finger movements on controller buttons. It uses the same gestures that serve as inputs. For instance, when a user presses a button, their thumb touches the side of the angled index finger. It also has a firm plastic surface that imitates the feel of a conventional button.
A Configuration Software
Diver-X offers a dedicated configuration software, DivingStation, with which users can easily calibrate their controllers and adjust their settings such as the sensitivity, to their personal preferences. Such configuration offers users an optimal virtual reality experience, according to the startup.
ContactGlove as Haptic Gloves for SteamVR
Diver-X says it is changing the game by making its virtual reality glove controller accessible in SteamVR. Due to their steep prices, haptic gloves have hitherto only been accessible to a few buyers, mostly enterprise clients, who can afford them. Compatibility with SteamVR means ContactGlove is now accessible to a much bigger audience, allowing most VR enthusiasts to lay their hands on the VR glove controller.
In the trailer shown by Diver-X, holding a virtual analog stick requires the thumb to rest sideways on the middle finger. This position enables the user to move their hand up and down in the air or to turn their hand sideways. The trailer also shows a classic controller with a handle that is magnetically attached inside the haptic glove. This is however not offered in the Kickstarter bundles at the moment.
Native SteamVR support has been provided for ease of software integration. The glove also features programming tools for both Unity and Unreal Engine. Precise room tracking is realized through SteamVR dongle in some of the Kickstarter models that are available. For instance, you can attach Vive or Tundra trackers to the back of the haptic glove.
Some of the Kickstarter bundles feature the Tundra Trackers. Kickstarter prices begin from $494. This is the pricing for the haptic glove models that don’t feature a haptic module and partly having Tundra trackers to provide an additional charge. These models will only be used for hand tracking with gloves such as in motion capturing and social apps. Models that contain haptic membranes will cost from $1,336.
The more affordable Early Bird offers for the device are all sold out already.
Diver-X has also provided software development kits (SDKs) for Unreal Engine and Unity to simplify content development with the ContactGlove VR controller glove. The SDK enables developers to seamlessly integrate the glove into their virtual reality projects and fully leverage its unique features.
The startup is also planning to release the ContactGlove Pro and ship it to its Kickstarter backers before it is finally available for general sale. The ContactGlove Pro is an improved version of the haptic glove with better tracking performance. It can even accurately capture the opening of fingers.
The standard version of the haptic glove is upgradeable to hit the same performance level as the Contact Glove Pro model if you buy an additional sensor module set to be released at the same time as the launch of the general sales of the haptic glove. This will enable buyers to select the model that is perfectly suited for their needs with the option of upgrading this at a later date.
For more information, check out the project’s Kickstarter page.