Meta has unveiled a prototype glove that will allow you to feel objects in virtual universes. This promising accessory is far from ready to join virtual reality headsets to immerse yourself in the metaverse.
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While diverting attention from the turmoil in which has locked himself Facebook, Meta multiplies the ads around the metavers. Last week, Futura mentioned ReSkin, an artificial skin capable of delivering the sensation of touching a robotic hand, for example (read below). Always around the sense of touch, the Research & Development branch of Meta goes a little further with a glove with haptic feedback allowing to feel the virtual world and not only with the fingertips, but with the whole hand.
The prototype, unveiled by Meta, comes to project us into the universe of Mad Max or from Dune. Instead of going for hundreds of energy-hungry actuators that tend to heat up, the researchers found another method. They use fluids to growair through small pockets in order to inflate them and create a pression on the fingers of the hand or the palm.
For the moment the prototype is not yet completed, but Meta already intends to add ten times more tiny pockets to obtain them. sensations close to reality. However, by multiplying these pockets, the management of them by the system becomes very complex. This is where the Meta lab stumbles again.
This demo shows a series of virtual interactions with Reality Labs’ haptic glove research prototype – including manipulation of virtual objects, such as throwing and receiving a virtual ball -, multiplayer interactions, such as thumb and handshake wars; and multiplayer games, such as virtual Jenga. © Reality Labs (RL) Research, Meta
Haptic feedback and motor neuron sensor
The other constraint for these gloves to become marketed accessories is their durability. For the moment, as one can imagine by seeing it, the prototype remains fragile and impractical with their cables.
Meta: towards a sensitive electronic skin to touch objects in the metaverse?
Article by Sylvain Biget published on November 4, 2021
Here is ReSkin, an artificial skin capable of reproducing the sense of touch. Developed by an American university, this is one of the new research projects on which Facebook / Meta has been grafted in order to develop its ambitions in virtual reality and the metaverse.
On robotic, of all the senses, that of touch remains the most difficult to reproduce. Enter fragile items, such as a raisin, without crushing them remains a feat to be accomplished for a robotic hand. To succeed in replicating this meaning, Facebook AI / Meta has embarked on a partnership with Carnegie Mellon University in the United States.
It was here that the researchers developed a prototype of a tactile electronic skin, called ReSkin. A skin that could be applied to robotic hands, prostheses or even “connected” gloves. With the ambition of the metaverse of Meta, it would rather be on the side of applications virtual reality than this material could be used. It would, for example, allow one person to feel what another person is touching.
In addition to hardware such as DIGIT, developing touch sensing as a modality requires an ecosystem of touch processors, simulators, benchmarks & data sets. Read more about our ongoing work in developing & open-sourcing this ecosystem: https://t.co/nQP8ND3X6zpic.twitter.com/yJFGQEEM7g
– Meta AI (@facebookai) November 1, 2021
ReSkin is made of a stretchable and flexible elastomeric membrane 2 to 3 mm thick. The skin also incorporates magnetic microparticles. When this membrane deforms into touching surface, the spacing between the microparticles changes. the magnetic field of the skin changes and these variations are indicated by a tiny magnetometer.
Durable, simple and inexpensive
The rest is done in software with algorithms which make it possible to determine the pressure to be exerted, as well as the precise location of the contact on the membrane. During the various tests carried out by the scientists, ReSkin was able to show an accuracy of 90% in its interactions with surfaces. Her sensitivity contact is precise since it is of the order of 1 mm.
Development of a prototype of tactile electronic skin, called ReSkin, applicable on robotic hands, prostheses or even “connected” gloves for virtual reality applications. © Meta AI, Twitter
During tests, the skin was used to reproduce and measure the pressure levels of several manipulations, such as throwing or catching an object, sliding on a surface, or even clapping. At the end of the tests, the researchers were able to note that as a bonus the material proved to be sufficiently durable to remain functional after more than 50,000 interactions. Another advantage: as ReSkin does not have an electronic component, it is inexpensive and easy to replace. The skin can be changed very simply in the event of deterioration, without requiring any adjustments or calibrages individuals.
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