I’m not sure whether we should be terrified or ecstatic, but either way we’re probably just a few short years away from actually living inside a computer. Virtual reality moving ahead in leaps and bounds and fully immersive video and game experiences seem closer at hand than ever.
Of course, until now, the “at hand” part was purely figurative. Though there’s plenty of virtual reality technology on the market and newer and more affordable models appearing all the time, most of that technology is purely visual. A new startup wants to change that by letting users feel virtual objects as well as see them.
When we imagine the future of virtual reality we think mostly of the things that we’ll see. Headsets that surround our field of vision and provide life like images in 360 degrees. That type of virtual is impressive, and it’s set to revolutionize entertainment and gaming, but it’s only a small part of the story. In order for a player to be fully immersed in a virtual environment the technology will need to serve all of their senses. In other words, they’ll need to feel. Startup Gloveone plans to make that possible with their new Smartglove technology.
The gloves contain proximity sensors that allow them to track the position of the wearers hands and fingers. By translating that information into a virtual environment a user will be able to grasp and manipulate objects with natural hand movements rather than via a controller. More importantly, the gloves also produce vibrations that will simulate the sensation of touching an object. In theory the gloves will be able to simulate anything from something as gentle as brushing a flower petal, to something more substantial like holding a sword or firing a gun.
When and if it hits the market, the technology will go a long way toward making virtual reality more accessible and engaging. The company has launched a Kickstarter campaign to make the gloves a reality. They’ve already raised $55,000 of the estimated $150,000 that they’ll need to put smartgloves on the shelves by 2016. If you’re interested you can pledge here or just wait around for the Star Trek holodeck to build itself I guess.
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