Have you already entered the metaverse? After having formalized its name change in honor of a virtual reality alongside the real one, the newborn "universe" of Zuckerberg is beginning to take its first steps towards the future. Facebook / Meta is in fact working on a glove that will allow you to touch and feel virtual objects. A way to experience virtual reality and immerse yourself completely, creating a new way of interacting with the world and with others.
Facebook: the glove to touch virtual objects in Meta
After the formalization of the name change from Facebook to Meta , the Zuckerberg-based company begins to push hard on virtual reality by producing a prototype of a glove able not only to touch virtual objects, but to feel them . Meta announced it with a post on her blog , in which she illustrated the capabilities of the glove and its possible applications.
We are trying to learn how people perceive the sensation of touch. We have to adapt every possible shape and size of the human hand. We are also developing new soft materials suitable for this technology
Sean Keller, project manager
The tactile glove wants to answer the question: how do we touch the virtual world? When we stretch our fingers towards an object we automatically know when to close our fingers and grasp it thanks to the sensation it gives us to the touch. In virtual reality this does not happen, and the action of taking objects is often almost unnatural and "detached" from our movements. Building a puzzle, having a coffee or typing characters from a keyboard will become a completely different experience: we will be able to feel the weight and texture of each object we hold in our hands.
How are they made?
The range of sensations felt by the hand is extensive and very complex. Try to think about how many textures we are able to hear, so different from each other: being able to convey them with a certain degree of precision through a glove is a considerable challenge. In order to reconstruct a sense of touch as realistic as possible, the glove will be equipped with small actuators, small motors which, thanks to their movement, are able to reproduce the expected sensation on the skin.
Researchers have been working on the glove for a few years now, and it appears that there has been enormous progress in the last period. Initially the actuators were classic mechanical motors, but they placed a physical limit on their number on the glove. The motors also proved to be too stiff to wear , as well as causing annoying overheating of the garment.
Over the past two years the team has explored various solutions, leaning towards pneumatic and electroactive actuators. The former use air pressure to generate forces and thus simulate different types of "touch" on the hand. The latter, on the other hand, respond to electrical stimuli by changing shape and size accordingly. We do not yet know which of the two types will fall on the choice, but in any case the gloves will be able to integrate the visual and auditory feedback already used for AR to create an increasingly complete alternative world.
Meta's tactile gloves are part of a much larger project from the Zuckerberg-based company. The ten-year vision proposed by the Facebook laboratories has at its center the integration of virtual reality with the real one, in order to expand human skills. The collaboration with Ray Ban for the creation of smart glasses is only the beginning of the future dreamed of by Meta.
Combining the virtual with the real means obtaining a greater and detailed context on what is happening around us. In the example reported by Facebook, a pair of smart glasses might be able to steal and provide us with information in real time, giving us directions on where to turn while driving, or telling us where we left the keys, thus allowing us to focus on other things. . "Our world is both digital and physical, and we shouldn't have to sacrifice either of them ." The more the devices of the future will be integrated with people, the less we will have to exclude ourselves from the real world to “enter” the virtual one.