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Researchers develop haptic gloves for virtual reality using 3D-printed liquid metal

By Park Sae-jin Posted : September 27, 2021, 17:17 Updated : September 27, 2021, 17:17

[Courtesy of UNIST]

SEOUL -- South Korean researchers have developed haptic gloves that can deliver various sensations such as heat and vibration from the virtual world to the real world. The glove was made using a 3D-printed liquid metal material and highly accurate sensors that can monitor finger movements and their joint angles in real-time.

Haptic technology refers to a three-dimensional touch technology that can recreate sensory feedback to a person using virtual reality (VR) equipment or other devices. Such technology is used to narrow the gap between the virtual world and the real world by offering sensations that match visual information. Otherwise, the user experience of VR is basically contact-free with no physical feedback.

While VR and augmented reality (AR) technologies are used to remotely control heavy equipment and other devices, workers find it hard to precisely operate big machines because they cannot feel vibrations and physical feedback. Some workers favor the operation of machinery from a cockpit where they can sense the state of equipment through their bodies.

The Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) said in a statement on September 27 that its research team has developed haptic feedback gloves capable of delivering realistic sensations such as vibration and heat. A person wearing gloves made of 3D-printed liquid metal can feel the difference in temperatures when he touches different materials including metal and wood in the virtual world.

The gloves are also fitted with high-performance flexible sensors that can track and monitor finger movements. Detected hand movements will be accurately recreated in the digital world to move or touch objects. UNIST said the new gloves would be useful in virtual training sessions, video games and entertainment. "These VR gloves will become an innovative interface in VR and AR industries," Bae Joon-bum, a UNIST professor, was quoted as saying.

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