Fluid Reality: High-Resolution, Untethered Haptic Gloves using Electroosmotic Pump Arrays

Virtual and augmented reality headsets are making significant progress in audio-visual immersion and consumer adoption. However, their haptic immersion remains low, due in part to the limitations of vibrotactile actuators which dominate the AR/VR market. In this work, we present a new approach to create high-resolution shape-changing fingerpad arrays with 20 haptic pixels/cm². Unlike prior pneumatic approaches, our actuators are low-profile (5mm thick), low-power (approximately 10mW/pixel), and entirely self-contained, with no tubing or wires running to external infrastructure. We show how multiple actuator arrays can be built into a five-finger, 160-actuator haptic glove that is untethered, lightweight (207g, including all drive electronics and battery), and has the potential to reach consumer price points at volume production. We describe the results from a technical performance evaluation and a suite of eight user studies, quantifying the diverse capabilities of our system. This includes recognition of object properties such as complex contact geometry, texture, and compliance, as well as expressive spatiotemporal effects.

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Shen, V., Rae-Grant, T., Mullenbach, J., Harrison, C. and Shultz, C. 2023. Fluid Reality: High-Resolution, Untethered Haptic Gloves using Electroosmotic Pump Arrays. In Proceedings of the 36th Annual ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology (October 29 – November 1, 2023). UIST '23. ACM, New York, NY. Article 8, pp 1–20.

© Chris Harrison