News Ultra-thin electronic ‘skin’ provides vivid virtual tactile experience in metaverse
‘wetac’ electro-tactile feedback system
A team of researchers at City University of Hong Kong (CityU) has recently unveiled ‘WeTac’, a thin wearable electronic ‘skin’ that provides users with tactile feedback Virtual and Augmented Reality environment. This radio haptic system is made of a skin-friendly hydrogel layer, which is attached to the user’s palm and collects the user’s personalized tactile sensing data, hoping to bring users a more realistic and vivid virtual tactile experience. Metaverse. The newly developed innovation has great application potential in virtual games, sports, technical training, social interaction or remote-controlled robots.
‘In addition to sight and sound, haptic feedback will further enhance the virtual reality (VR) experience. Therefore, we are committed to developing a wireless tactile interface that is thinner, softer, and more skin-friendly, and the user can still move freely when wearing it on the hand, like a second skin. Dr Yu Xinge, Associate Professor and Head of Research, Department of Biomedical Engineering, CityU shared.
The WeTac system consists of thin, skin-friendly palm patches | All images courtesy of City University of Hong Kong (CityU)
Wireless wearable palm patch replaces bulky tactile gloves
Haptic gloves currently on the market are mainly composed of air pumps and air ducts, as well as a control system powered by wires and cables, which greatly impairs the user’s immersive experience in virtual reality and augmented reality. Compared with these bulky gloves, the newly developed WeTac is thin, soft and skin-friendly, thus providing a better user experience.
The WeTac system developed by CityU (find out more here) consists of two parts: a tiny flexible actuator used as a control panel, and a palm patch with hydrogel electrodes as a tactile interface. The entire actuator weighs only 19.2 grams and is small enough (5cm x 5cm x 2.1mm) to be worn on the user’s forearm. It also features Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and a small rechargeable Li-ion battery for wireless transmission and power. The thickness of the palm patch is only 220 microns to 1 mm. The electrodes extend from the palm to the fingertips.
The flexible actuator attaches to the user’s forearm
Potential for wide application
The WeTac system has been successfully integrated into virtual scenes such as VR and AR, and can also work with devices such as robotic arms through BLE communication. Its lightweight and portable wireless control design and sensitivity-based intensity adjustment allow users to easily experience the virtual touch of “hands and feet”. Users can experience virtual objects in different scenarios, such as catching a tennis ball in sports practice, touching a cactus in a virtual social network or game, or feeling a mouse walking on a hand.
“The team believes that this research can provide an effective development tool for virtual contact, and also bring enlightenment to the technological development in different fields such as ‘Metaverse’, human-machine interface operation, etc.” Dr. Yu said.
author: City University of Hong Kong (CityU)
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December 19, 2022