Facebook’s new haptic glove lets you feel things in the metaverse

On Tuesday afternoon, Meta, formerly Facebook, released a supposedly sexy ad: a glove. But not just any glove. It is a tactile glove padded with small motors that use bursts of air to mimic the sense of touch, Looks like a wearable nightmare.

There is nothing necessarily wrong with the meta-invention of the twenty-first century power glove Lets you feel digital things. The company appears to have been working on the project for seven years, and the team building it is thinking at least a decade into the future. The glove is also less worrisome than the brainwave reading bracelet Facebook announced earlier this year (the company insists the wristband It doesn’t read your mind). But it’s increasingly clear that, even with its shining new name, the Meta is struggling to make the metaverse, a virtual space where people can work and hang out via avatars, more accessible—and less intimidating—to the average human.

Some people will love this awful DIY equipment. Created by Meta Reality Labs, the modular haptic glove is designed to work with virtual reality systems of the future. Most VR headsets today work in conferences with controllers with joysticks and buttons. Meta Quest and Quest 2, more Reality Labs products too Offers console-free manual tracking, which uses the camera on the headset and computer vision algorithms to interpret what your hands are doing and translate that movement into the virtual world. Currently, when you make an apple catch motion in VR, your actual hand will not feel the sensation of holding an apple.

Enter: the gauntlet. The Meta tactile glove prototype uses principles from soft robotics and uses pneumatic and electric actuators to quickly inflate small air pockets on the fingers and comfort of the glove. These actuators are basically small actuators that can create the sensation of pressure, and therefore touch. The idea here is that if the Meta can put thousands of these triggers on a haptic glove and combine those sensations with the visual inputs of a VR headset or augmented reality glasses, which project digital images onto the real world, the wearer can access and feel virtual objects. With gloves like these, you might one day shake someone else’s hand in the metaverse and feel the pressure.

Meta did not invent tactile clothing. There are many companies that manufacture jackets, pants and even Complete battery-powered Marvel superhero costumes. Various articles of tactile clothing have appeared since the early 1990s — much like the term metaverse, which author Neil Stephenson coined in the 1992 science fiction novel. snow crash. The tactile glove specifically played a major role in Ernst Klein’s 2011 novel One ready playerAnd Likewise in the Steven Spielberg movie. In the real world around 2021, the vast majority of people using such technology are serious players with money. A tactile jacket that will put you in 40 different places on your body, for example, It costs 500 dollars.

It’s worth noting that virtual reality has historically been the realm of really serious gamers, and this is a potential problem for the Meta and its grand plan for the metaverse. If Mark Zuckerberg wanted everyone to use his metaverse products, just like Nearly 3 billion people use Facebook, he does himself no favors by liking the science fiction-inspired inventions produced by reality labs.

Demo of the new Meta Touch Glove.
Courtesy of Meta Reality Labs

Tactile clothing is a futuristic concept, but it’s also very strange and potentially invasive. Would you like to record Meta data (read: Facebook) about your body movements through a special glove or scan your brain waves through a bracelet? Yes, Meta Quest hand tracking technology It collects and stores data about your movements. This might sound innocent enough if you’re playing a role The popular virtual reality game Beat Saber in your living room. It’s even more worrisome when you imagine a world where you’re doing a lot of computing through a VR headset or augmented reality glasses — which Zuckerberg basically believes the future of the internet will be.

There are plenty of reasons to believe that the metaverse and Living life through a pair of eyeglasses connected to the internet can be great. In the meantime, immersive virtual reality technologies are proving to be useful for more non-gaming applications. On the same day that Meta Reality Labs showed off its prototype tactile glove, the Food and Drug Administration The VR system has been approved for the treatment of chronic pain. This isn’t the first virtual reality therapy to receive FDA approval this year.

You might say the Meta Touch Glove is another distraction – not unlike Facebook Changing her name to Meta amid a bad historical scandal And making sure everyone will be talking about the metaverse for weeks to come.

It reminds us of another ad on Facebook, one that came a few days before the name change. In mid-October, Reality Labs said it was launching a research project that would Analyzing thousands of hours of footage A first-person shot of training AI models. This dataset is embedded in a video captured by Facebook’s smart glasses, which is Ray Bans with camera. The company is recalling the Ego4D dataset and releasing it to researchers around the world this month.

Does this project sound cool and relevant to Meta’s plan to build a metaverse where people who wear smart glasses might someday want a computer to recognize what they’re looking at? certainly. Does it sound worrisome at best for a company to train bots how to see – a company that does it Wants to own a large part of the metaverse, the next generation of the Internet – is the same company that many Say He is destruction democracy? Yes it is.

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