Virtual reality gloves that simulate the ability of the skin to feel hot and cold have been developed by Mexican engineers.
Designed to work with the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, the gloves can also provide the sense of vibration and roughness of objects that a gamer touches in the virtual reality environment.
Dubbed the Power Claw, the system uses Leap Motion software to identify the user’s hands in different simulations.
Vivoxie, the company behind the invention, created two demos using the Unity platform, which is commonly used for creating videogames for a console or the web.
One of the game demos simulates the interior of a building where the user must perform small tasks, like hurl thunderbolts with his hands to destroy a number of targets, open the doors of an elevator, shoot fireballs and feel their fingers burn or freeze when lifting a piece of ice.
The team envisions the system could also be used in educational settings to teach medicine or engineering students.
The glove has three actuators in the thumb, index finger and middle finger and is equipped with an electronic circuit that generates impulses simulating the sensations.
The researchers are currently seeking commercial partners who would help them further develop the product. One of their aims is to improve the power management of the glove to enable wireless operations. Currently, the actuators consume too much power when changing from hot to cold and require a constant power supply.