June 26, 2017

Finger Tracking Input And Feel-The-Heat Output

13-VR NEWSFEED June 26 2017 - Finger tracking and heat feedback

Newsfeed - June 23, 2017

Two exciting new technologies are set to make a big impact on the world of Virtual Reality: finger tracking and heat feedback.

kNUCKLES FROM  vALVE

An interesting new technology called “knuckles” - developed by Valve - enables the position of individual fingers to be tracked. This is done through capacitive sensors which the Valve development team have inserted into the handle and buttons of the controller.

The controller includes a flexible strap that is wrapped around your hand. This enables you to open and close your grip without dropping the controllers.

Then as you open and close your fingers around the controller, the capacitive sensors measure these small variations and effectively track whether your fingers are open, closed or somewhere in the middle.

According to a report from the development team:

“Each finger axis returns a curl value between zero and one, where zero indicates that a finger is pointing straight out and one indicates that the finger is fully curled around the controller.”

The device has to be calibrated first by closing and opening each hand after it has been strapped in. However, the device is quite sophisticated and incorporated a self-learning technology into the system. According to Valve:

Recalibrations will occur automatically over the course of a play session as you reach out to grab items, throw things, etc. This is both expected and necessary, as your skin capacitance will change over time. The intent is for the controller to adjust to these changes automatically after the initial calibration has been performed.

Prototype Knuckles are being shipped to developers already, but no date has yet been announced for the release of a production version.

As for calibrating the device, it’s as simple as making sure that your hands are properly strapped to the Knuckles, and then closing your hands around the controller. Then, you open your hands for one second which should calibrate the device. The team goes on to explain:

Recalibrations will occur automatically over the course of a play session as you reach out to grab items, throw things, etc. This is both expected and necessary, as your skin capacitance will change over time. The intent is for the controller to adjust to these changes automatically after the initial calibration has been performed.

According to Valve, Knuckles (in prototype form) are currently being shipped to developers. It is unknown when the production versions will be available for the general public.

fEEL THE HEAT

On the output end, there are also some exciting new developments looming on the horizon. One, in particular, that has caught our eye is ThermoReal from TEGway. This is a thermoelectric material. That is, it is a conductive material that can change temperature according to the events in the game being played. Thus an incendiary explosion will make it hot, while an arctic expedition will (presumably) make it cold.

TEGway have filed patents for flexible thermoelectric devices. Their product illustrations, suggest that the material be used for gloves and for a chest-plate/vest that will presumably sent this thermal feedback to the torso.

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