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Latest Haptic VR Glove is Capable of Creating Realistic Warm/Cold Sensations

A new thermoelectric glove product is capable of relaying thermal stimuli to users who are keen on experiencing greater immersion with virtual reality technology.

Virtual reality technology has witnessed several thermal stimuli creation attempts in the past. This type of technology helps users in virtual reality environments feel realistic sensations of cold and hot. One of these attempts is the LiquidMask, which offers a potential brain interface solution for virtual reality. There are some prototypes like ThermoReal from TEGway, a thermoelectric device which was showcased at CES 2020. TEGway is a Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) spinoff.

KAIST researchers have recently offered a new glove model capable of relaying thermal perception in virtual reality. This thermal glove has been designed to let users get a feel of real-time virtual temperatures. The new haptic VR glove is based on a platform that hails from the motion-sensing glove with backend piezoelectric sensor embeds. The glove fingers have the ability to measure the impact generated by hand motions.

The thermal display of the haptic glove works in real-time. It is fitted with flexible TEDs and has a form factor that can support a user’s finger movements, and is capable of focusing on a minimum curvature radius. It is based on the past manufacturing process used by KAIST in its haptic glove research.

Thermal stimuli glove by KAIST. Image: kaist

The new set of gloves feature thermoelectric devices (TEDs) that are utilised for thermal displays reliant on the Peltier effect. These TEDs are embedded at the front side of one’s thumb, middle finger, index finger and upper palm areas. These are the areas where temperature differences are evident and users can observe hot and cold sensations within a virtual reality environment. The new haptic gloves are standalone devices that can function without any external sources and connections. The hand movements of users are transmitted to piezoelectric sensors whilst TEDs are integrated within the glove, in place of the external devices used in previous research.

The haptic VR glove has an interface board featuring a below-the-wrist power supply capable of communicating with a VR software or a computer. Upon touching an object that has a temperature difference within a virtual space, the sensation can be transmitted into the device’s interface board. The board then starts controlling the embedded thermoelectric sensors in the haptic glove. The sensors are responsible for triggering thermal stimuli on the skin of users and transmitting the temperatures to be created in a particular scenario. It is a real-time system with sensors that can convey differences of as much as 10 degrees at incredibly fast rates.

KAIST researchers have created and tested out the thermal stimuli glove as a prototype for researching how temperature can enhance virtual reality experiences. Simultaneous temperature perceptions make visual stimuli seem more real if they are relayed in real-time. Haptics technology has been around for a long time and found use in many production applications. Further developments are expected for the technology of the haptic VR gloves in the near future.

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