Facebook’s new tactile glove lets you feel everything in the metaverse

On Tuesday afternoon, Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, made a supposedly interesting announcement: a glove. But not just any gloves. It’s a tactile glove equipped with small motors that use airflows to mimic the sensation of touch, and it looks like a wearable nightmare.

There’s nothing wrong with Meta inventing the 21st century Electric Gloves allows you to perceive digital objects. The company has apparently been working on the project for seven years, and the team that built it is thinking at least a decade into the future. The glove is also less irritating than the brainwave-reading bracelet Facebook announced earlier this year (the company claims that the bracelet Can’t read your mind). But it’s increasingly clear that, even with its shiny new name, Meta is still struggling to make the metaverse, a virtual space where people can work and hang out via avatars, more accessible – and less creepy – for the average human being.

Some people will love this quirky handheld. Crafted by Meta Reality Labs, the prototype tactile glove is designed to work with futuristic virtual reality systems. Most VR headsets currently work in congress with controllers equipped with joysticks and buttons. Meta Quest and Quest 2, other products of Reality Labs, also provides joyless hand tracking, which uses the camera on the headset and computer vision algorithms to interpret what your hand is doing and translate that movement into the virtual world. So now, when you perform the motion of picking up an apple in VR, your real hand won’t feel like holding an apple.

Enter: the glove. Meta’s prototype tactile glove uses principles from soft robotics and uses pneumatic and electrical actuators to rapidly inflate the small air pockets on the glove’s fingers and palm. These actuators are essentially small motors that can produce a sense of pressure and, therefore, induction. The idea here is if Meta could fit thousands of these actuators into a tactile glove and combine those sensations with the visual input of a VR headset or augmented reality glasses, projecting a digital image digitally onto the real world, the wearer can reach and perceive the virtual object. With gloves like these, you might one day shake hands with someone else’s avatar in the metaverse and feel squeezed.

Meta didn’t invent tactile clothing. There are several companies that produce vests, trousers and even the whole set of clothes looks like a battery-powered Marvel superhero costume. Many articles about tactile clothing have emerged since the early 1990s – like the term metaverse, which author Neal Stephenson coined in his 1992 sci-fi novel Snow. Haptic Gloves in particular play an important role in Ernest Cline’s 2011 novel Ready Player One, as well as in the film adaptation of Steven Spielberg. In the real world around 2021, the vast majority of people using technology like this are really serious money gamers. For example, a vest can poke you in 40 different places on your body, Price $500.

It should be pointed out that VR was once the domain of really serious gamers, and that’s a potential problem for Meta and its grand plans for the metaverse. If Mark Zuckerberg wants people to use his metaverse products, like nearly 3 billion people use Facebook, he doesn’t do himself any favors by relying on the sci-fi-inspired inventions his Reality Labs is working on.

A demonstration of Meta’s new tactile glove.
Courtesy of Meta Reality Labs

Haptic clothing is a futuristic concept, but it’s also very quirky and potentially invasive. Do you want Meta (read: Facebook) to record your body’s movements through a special glove, or scan your brainwaves through a bracelet? Yes, hand tracking technology Meta Quest collect and store data about your movements. This seems naive enough if you’re playing a round Popular VR game Beat Sabre in your living room. It’s more disturbing when you imagine a world where you do most of your computing work through VR headsets or AR glasses – that’s basically what Zuckerberg thinks the future of the internet will look like. .

And there are plenty of reasons to believe that the metaverse and Living life through a pair of internet-connected glasses can be cool. Meanwhile, immersive VR technology is proving useful for more and more non-game related applications. On the same day that Meta Reality Labs introduced its prototype tactile glove, the Food and Drug Administration authorized a VR system for chronic pain treatment. And this isn’t even the first VR treatment to win FDA approval this year.

You could say that Meta’s tactile gloves are another distraction – unlike Facebook changed its name to Meta in the midst of one of the worst scandals in history and make sure people talk about the metaverse for weeks to come.

It’s reminiscent of another Facebook announcement, one made just days before the name change. In mid-October, Reality Labs said it was launching a research project that will analyze thousands of hours of footage First-person shooting to train artificial intelligence models. Included in that dataset are videos shot with Facebook’s smart glasses, Ray-Bans are equipped with cameras. The company is calling the dataset Ego4D and will release it to researchers around the world this month.

Does this project look interesting and does it fit with Meta’s plan to build a supermarket where smart glasses wearers might one day want the computer to recognize what they’re looking at? Sure. At best it seems unsettling when the company trains the robot how to see – company want to own a large part of the metaverse, the next generation of the Internet – the same company much To speak To be destroy democracy? It has.

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