A research team, affiliated with UNIST has unveiled a new pair of haptic gloves with heat, vibration and motion controls, all integrated together. The sensors, heaters and electric wires used in the construction of these gloves were drawn with precision and thinness with liquid metal printing technology. As a result, these gloves allow users to touch and feel objects in virtual reality.
This breakthrough has been led by Professor Joonbum Bae and his research team in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at UNIST. Their findings have been featured on the front cover of the September 2021 issue of leading science journal, Advanced Functional Materials.
In this study, the research team developed multimodal sensing and feedback glove, which can measure finger movements and provide vibro-haptic and thermo-haptic feedback simultaneously, using soft, stretchable, lightweight, and compact sheets manufactured by direct ink writing of a liquid metal, eutectic gallium-indium (eGaIn).
According to the research team, the resulting glove tracks angles of two joints on each of the fingers in real-time and reflect the changes on the display. Besides, it allows users to feel the contact status and different temperatures under various virtual reality environments.
“If a user grabs an item inside hot water, a sudden change of temperature will be delivered realistically through the gloves,” noted the research team.
To enable three functions at the same time without any interference, the research team used the liquid metal printing technology. The sensors, heaters and electric wires were drawn with precision and thinness with the technology.
Because the new gloves exhibit high durability and excellent performance even after repeated bending, wider and further applications are also expected, especially in the era of 4IR.
“These gloves are made of light flexible and comfortable materials to wear and provide haptic feedback when bending, and thus we expect them to be used in various fields, including digital games and wearable devices, especially in healthcare,” said Professor Bae.
Jinhyeok Oh,Suin Kim,Sangyeop Lee, et al., “A Liquid Metal Based Multimodal Sensor and Haptic Feedback Device for Thermal and Tactile Sensation Generation in Virtual Reality (Adv. Funct. Mater. 39/2021),” Adv. Funct. Mater., (2021).