The VR Glove - A Smart Data Capture System for Human Computer Interfacing
The VR Glove Wins Technology Ireland Award
'Outstanding Academic Achievement' award for Smart Glove at Technology Ireland Software Awards
On Friday 24th of November, 2017, the team of researchers behind the Smart Glove – Haptic Human Computer Interface System for virtual reality/augmented reality (VR/AR) and robotics - won the ‘Outstanding Academic Achievement in the field of Digital Technology’ category of the Technology Ireland Software Awards
The smart glove for HCI is a culmination of over a decade of research in the development of motion sensing for the human body and incorporates the latest sensing technologies needed to bridge the human and digital worlds of Augmented/Virtual Reality and robotics. The Wireless Sensor Networks group at the Tyndall National Institute, led by Dr Brendan O’Flynn, working in collaboration with the Telecommunications Software & Systems Group (TSSG) in Waterford Institute of Technology, and in conjunction with human factors engineering and industrial design experts “Design Partners”, as well as manufacturers of wearable technology, hopes to create a device that transports people’s hands into the virtual world providing them with a fully immersive experience. Funded by Enterprise Ireland as part of its commercialization fund scheme, the glove incorporates sensors and novel data fusion algorithms to give precise information in real time regarding hand biomechanics, position and movement.
Developments in VR technology have been incrementally improving since the 1960s with the introduction of the the first head-mounted display (HMD) – head gear that gives the user a full frontal and peripheral visual experience. However to date there has been no ability for the user to truly immerse his/herself in the experience and interact directly (bi-directionally) with the digital domain.
As opposed to traditional video gaming, where the visual sense is the only significant sense that plays a role in the application, in VR and Augmented Reality (AR) applications, the vestibular, proprioception and tactile senses are important. VR/AR systems thus demand accurate and low-latency Human Computer Interface (HCI) systems to avoid motion sickness effects.
The smart glove integrates all the required sensors and actuators and associated software data fusion algorithms which allow humans for the first time to seamlessly interface with and engage in VR/AR applications in an immersive fashion.
Incorporating the latest hardware and software, this multi modal data capture system bridges the divide between the human and the digital world in a wireless smart-glove form factor incorporating novel software, data-analytics, data fusion algorithms, auto-calibration regimes and power control regimes, to optimise the user experience.
The system has been designed according to ergonomic drivers and user-experience factors, and it has been designed to be robust, rugged, modular and intuitive to use.
The smart data capture glove is the only glove of its type to incorporate the level of sensing hardware and software required to provide low-latency data throughput with haptic feedback in a form-factor that is robust, low-cost, modular, easy to use wear and wash, and which incorporates ergonomic design.
Embedded data fusion algorithms and auto-calibration techniques ensure precision analysis of fingers motion at an output rate faster (100-700Hz) than that of any competitor. As these algorithms run on the microsystem within the glove no additional processing power is required on the gaming console making it compatible with lower-cost infrastructure.
The device integrates 12 inertial sensors to account for all the degrees of freedom of the hand. It integrates ten tactile feedback actuators which can simulate tactile events in the virtual world. In addition, it integrates 11 IR-LEDs for 3D-positioning camera-based tracking that also aim to improve the accuracy of the joint angles and absolute position estimation.
Wireless connectivity is provided by Wi-Fi and Bluetooth standards to ensure compatibility with all gaming and VR/AR platforms. The outputs are Unity-compatible, as this is the industry standard for gaming, VR/AR applications.
The modular construction (based on standard USB Connectivity) allows for low-cost of manufacture and ease of repair/replacement of finger segments to adapt for different gaming experiences. The user is, thus, enabled to build his/her own system in an organic fashion. This modular construction allows for a one-size-fits-all system which is adaptable to both right and left hands.
The glove can be used for remote-learning, as well as helping educators work in a virtual-environment allowing students learn from gold-standard experts in their field. This technology can also be used for sports-coaching, musicianship or any other learning environment where precise movements are essential.
Prototypes of the glove have been used by surgeons for medical training in the virtual environment (irishexaminer and Youtube), and the potential use cases in the smart factories of the future as well as for social media and consumer gaming interfaces are myriad. (Twitter)
Pictured Above: Dr Brendan O'Flynn, Tyndall National Institute (centre) accepting Technology Ireland Outstanding Academic Achievement of the Year Award