My typical morning routine starts when I role out of bed, throw on my glasses, and check my phone to see what crazy news happened while I was asleep. My news feed, like most of you, pulls from all of the big VR/AR news sources, so I am used to seeing announcements of new hardware, games, Unity bug fixes, reviews, etc.
On Monday, I noticed a large number of mentions about a new haptic glove, but I ignored them. I’ve seen so many haptic solutions announced, it is starting to feel like every piece of clothing in the near future will be covered in IMUs and tiny vibrating motors. Anyway, the company name was ‘HaptX’ and I had never even heard of them.
As my Monday progressed, I found myself stuck on a tough line of code at work and decided to take another look at my news feed.
Hmmm… more articles on this Haptx glove. Maybe I should just read one of them and see what all the fuss is about.
It turns out that Haptx is actually the new name for a well established startup here in Seattle, AxonVR. I’ve already tried their early prototype and have a great respect for their team and ideas. If they rebranded and have a new prototype, I need to get my hands on it, or IN it, in this case.
A few tweets and emails later, I’m blasting through traffic to visit my buddies at Haptx.
They threw me into their demo almost right away, anxious to hear my feedback. I was lucky to run into another passionate dude in the VR space, Nima Zeighami, who was next in line for the demo (see video).
The HaptX glove is still a prototype, but feels MUCH more advanced than the AxonVR ‘box’ I stuck my hand into last year. I have tried out several other haptic gloves in the last few years from various companies, but in my opinion, this one is leading the way.
Putting it on took a small bit of effort, which I expected. I have yet to simply slide on a haptic glove prototype and have it work right away. Once it was on, it fit nicely on my short stubby fingers, and I was ready to go.
They paired their glove experience with an HTC Vive, and put me into an Unreal farm experience designed to show off the gloves capabilities. I touched the stars, grabbed clouds, and even fondled the moon a bit. Each piece in the experience had a slightly different feel, and the realism was surprisingly effective.
The rain blew my mind. I stuck my hand under a cloud that was spewing out raindrops. They plopped down onto my palm with so much realism that I almost pulled my hand back, afraid that I would get the glove wet.
A tiny fox jumped into my hand and walked around. I felt every paw movement on my palm. I decided to squeeze hard and crush the fox, and my fingers met resistance, giving the digital model a dimension of realism that my brain wasn’t quite ready for.
After I had completed my demo, I stuck around and watched Nima give it a go. I was pleased to see him enjoy the demo as much as I had.
I think Nima said it best with, “This is the last piece of the puzzle.”
I am looking forward to seeing where HaptX takes this technology next. Someday, I hope to be wearing a full suit made by these folks. Hopefully, it will come in XXL.