Virtual reality will soon be touchable.
Picture a remote village without proper medical care. Now, picture a doctor in some US city operating on a patient without even leaving the country. That’s the dream and long-term goal that the developers of Power Claw have for their new haptic gloves: "Because it's a lot cheaper to just have a couple of devices in towns or cities that are far away instead of building a whole hospital or whole facility just to be taking care of these people."
Vivoxie, a Mexican company, presented their gloves at the Gamescom 2015 conference in Germany in early August. Made to complement Oculus Rift glasses that let wearers look around in a virtual reality setting, the gloves take the experience to the next level by letting wearers feel temperature, weight, texture and vibrations through sensors in the thumb, index and middle finger.
For now, the gloves are reserved for gaming purposes and have to be combined with pre-existing software and technology. The test prototype took users through simulations of completing small tasks like hurling thunderbolts, opening doors, destroying targets and touching pieces of ice inside a building. The new glove technology was combined with Oculus Rift glasses so that players could see their environment along with Leap Motion Software that identified where they moved their hands, transferring the location information to the game.
The gloves come with a $400 price tag and should be available by mid-2016. However, there is still much to be improved on. It takes a lot of energy to vary the temperature between 39 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit (4 and 40 degrees Celsius). Thus, the gloves are not yet wireless.
Future aims involve combining the gloves with various apps outside of the video game industry. For example, they could have practical applications in medicine and engineering. Training simulations would become much more effective if users could feel what they were supposed to be experiencing and receive feedback appropriate to the situation. The developers are looking to partner with other companies and adapt the gloves to their needs.
Will these gloves ever revolutionize the face of medicine? It’s hard to say. But if nothing else, gaming just got cooler and a lot more real!
Check out the gloves in this video: