Facebook’s new haptic glove makes you feel things in the metaverse


On Tuesday afternoon, Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, made an exciting announcement: a glove. But not just any gloves. It’s a haptic glove with a line of small motors that use air blasts to mimic the feeling of touch, and it seems like a wearable nightmare.

There should be nothing wrong with inventing Meta in a 21st century Power Glove that makes you feel digital things. The company has apparently been working on the project for seven years, and the team that built it is contemplating at least a decade into the future. The glove is also less intimidating than the brain -reading bracelet announced on Facebook earlier this year (the company insisted that the wristband do not read your mind). But more clearly, even with its shiny new name, Meta is struggling to make the metaverse, a virtual space where people can work and interact through avatars, much faster-and less intimidating – to the average person.

Some people love this unique handgear. Built by Meta Reality Labs, the prototype haptic glove is designed to work with virtual reality systems of the future. Most VR headsets now work in congress with controllers with joysticks and buttons. Meta Quest and Quest 2, many Reality Labs products, too offer uncontrolled hand tracking, which uses the headset’s onboard camera and computer vision algorithms to interpret what your hands do and translate that movement into a virtual world. So right now, if you make the move to pick up an apple in VR, your actual hand won’t feel the sensation of holding an apple.

Entry: the glove. The Meta prototype haptic glove uses principles from soft robotics and uses a pneumatic and electroactive actuator to quickly elevate the small air pockets on the fingers and palm of the glove. These actuators are essentially small motors that can sense pressure and, therefore, touch. The idea here is that if Meta can fit thousands of these actuators into a haptic glove and combine visual input sensations with a VR headset or augmented reality glasses, digital display images to the real world, the wearer can reach and feel. virtual objects. With gloves like these, you can one day shake the avatar’s hand with others in the metaverse and you’ll feel the squeeze.

Meta did not invent haptic clothing. There are many companies that make haptic vests, pants, and even more full suits similar to the battery -powered Marvel superhero costume. Various articles on haptic clothing have been circulating since the early 1990s – such as the term metaverse, coined by author Neal Stephenson in the 1992 sci -fi novel. Snowfall. Haptic gloves specifically play an important role in Ernest Cline’s 2011 novel Ready Player One, as well as Steven Spielberg’s film adaptation. In the real world circa 2021, most people who use technology like this are serious players with money. A haptic vest that will push you to 40 different areas of your body, for example, worth $ 500.

It’s worth pointing out that VR has historically been the realm of serious gamers, and that’s a potential problem for Meta and its grand plan for the metaverse. If Mark Zuckerberg wants everyone to use his metaverse products, like nearly 3 billion people use Facebook, he hasn’t done himself any favors by relying on the sci-fi-inspired inventions that his Reality Labs are working on.

A demonstration of Meta’s new haptic glove.
Courtesy of Meta Reality Labs

Haptic clothing is a futuristic concept, but it is also strange and likely invasive. Do you want Meta (read: Facebook) to log data about your body movements through a special glove or scan your brain waves through a bracelet? Yes, Meta Quest’s hand tracking technology collects and stores data about your actions. It can seem innocent if you’re playing a round the popular VR game Beat Saber of your sin. It’s even more worrying if you can imagine a world where you do most of your computing through a VR headset or AR goggles – which is crucial to what Zuckerberg thinks the future of the internet will be like.

And there are many reasons to believe that the metaverse and Living life through a pair of glasses connected to the internet can be cool. Meanwhile, immersive VR technologies have proven useful for even more non-gaming applications. The same day Meta Reality Labs unveiled its prototype haptic glove, the Food and Drug Administration allowed a VR system for the treatment of chronic pain. And it’s not yet the first VR treatment to win FDA approval this year.

You could say that Meta’s haptic glove is still a distraction – unlike Facebook changed its name to Meta amid a bad historical scandal and make sure everyone talks about the metaverse in the coming weeks.

This is reminiscent of another Facebook announcement, one that came just a few days before the name change. In mid-October, Reality Labs said it was launching a research project that could analyze thousands of hours of footage shot from a first -person perspective to train artificial intelligence models. Included in that data set is video captured on Facebook’s smart glasses, that is Ray-Bans equipped with camera. The company calls the data set Ego4D and will release it to researchers around the world this month.

Is this project as cool and relevant as Meta’s plan to build a metaverse where in the coming days people wearing smart glasses may want to be computer-aware of what they’re up to. aw? Sure. Worried that the company is training robots on how to look – the company is want to own a large chunk of the metaverse, the next generation of the internet – the same company that more say is destruction democracy? It works.

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