Scientists are developing an ultra-thin electronic “skin” that lets you experience touch in a virtual device

A team of researchers has created a “skin” that allows you to touch objects in virtual reality. Led by researchers from the City University of Hong Kong (CityU), “WeTac” is a thin, glove-like wearable device that provides tactile feedback to users in virtual and augmented reality environments. The newly developed innovation has great application potential in virtual games, sports, technical training, social interaction or remote control robots. Users can experience virtual objects in different scenarios, such as holding a tennis ball while playing sports or feeling a mouse walking on their hands during virtual games. The current haptic gloves mostly rely on bulky pumps and air ducts, which are operated and controlled through wires and cables, which severely hinders the immersive experience of VR and AR users. The newly developed WeTac overcomes these drawbacks with its soft, thin, skin-integrated cordless electrode system. The system consists of two parts: a miniature soft actuator unit, attached to the forearm as a control panel and a hydrogel-based electric hand piece as a tactile interface. The entire motor unit weighs only 19.2g and is small (5cm x 5cm x 2.1mm) small enough to be attached to the arm. The study says they show “great flexibility” and “ensure effective feedback” in various poses and gestures. Xinge believes that this invention is a powerful tool for providing “virtual touch” and an inspiration for the development of metaverse interface, human-machine interface (HMI) and other fields.

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