The haptic glove project is progressing nicely!
At the beginning of the year, we decided to branch out a bit from our previous design to explore other solutions. However, we have returned to a largely similar design with some key modifications. The new glove is almost entirely made of 3d-printed parts, uses new communication protocols and tracking algorithms, and now integrates with Unity!
We have already printed most of the glove and have been working on mounting components. The next steps are finishing up the finger exoskeleton design and integrating it with the rest of the glove. The exoskeleton should be one of the more interesting improvements in this prototype. Instead of extending the Exo along the sides of the fingers to create joints, it now runs exclusively across the top. The new mechanism creates what we call “virtual joints” outside of its physical structure that allows it to move freely with the finger while maintaining its internal structure. This allows us to create pressure just at the fingertip without using the user’s own fingers for leverage.
On the software side, we are currently focusing on smoothing out the motion of the servos and improving the reliability of the force measurements. Instead of modifying servos to read their position, we are using external force sensors. While it adds a bit of complexity, it greatly reduces the twitchiness of the glove. This also means our communication system is a lot cleaner. Now, instead of sending full coordinates and force data back and forth, we just send position values to Unity and Unity responds with a target force. Unity builds a model finger from the glove’s positional tracking and calculates the required force on each joint that will result in a realistic experience. This system cuts back on the amount of data that is sent back and forth and improves the speed of the overall simulation.
We are finishing up integrating all of these parts and hope to have a full demo online by mid-April.