With the imminent arrival of the Oculus Rift and Sony's Morpheus, the era of virtual reality gaming is nearly upon is. Video game industry watchers expect the arrival of viable VR headsets to be the biggest revolution in gaming since the first generation of console machines some 40 years ago.
No matter how sophisticated, though, virtual reality headsets are still limited to the audio-visual experience. As such, several commercial and research groups are hoping to augment headsets by designing force feedback peripherals that replicate the sense of touch in the realm of virtual reality.
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And whaddyknow, we have an example right here. A group of engineering students at Rice University introduced a prototype gaming glove this week that would let gamers literally feel the objects they touch in the virtual world.
The Hands Omni glove uses force-feedback design to approximate the sensation of touching, pressing or gripping a surface or object. If your avatar picks up an apple in the game - or more likely, a grenade - you'll feel the object in your hand. The idea is, down the line, game designers could work with the Hands Omni software, programming touchable elements into new game titles.
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The proprietary system uses a network of small inflatable air bladders in the glove to deliver the pressure to your fingertips. The glove is wireless and lightweight - abut 350 grams - and designed to be as unobtrusive as possible.
The Hands Omni glove was developed at Rice's Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen and sponsored by Virtuix, a Houston gaming technology company. Here's a quick demo video from a recent design showcase.