Published on July 22nd, 2019 | by Emergent Enterprise0
Facebook Prototypes Haptic Feedback Wristbands for AR/VR
For VR to provide a 100% virtual reality it will one day have to simulate interactions with all of the senses. Jeremy Horowitz of VentureBeat reports on Facebook’s prototype that provides haptic response to a user’s actions in AR or VR. A simple touch in real life sparks a myriad of physical reactions in the human body that are difficult to reproduce if the actual object is not really there. Facebook and other tech companies will need to fool the skin, nerves, eyes and brain (to name a few) just to recreate a single touch.
Up until now, handheld controllers have been the primary tools VR and AR headset wearers have used for interactions with artificial worlds, but Facebook is already planning for a hands-free future — or at least one where you don’t need to hold controllers to feel feedback from the digital environment. To that end, Facebook Reality Labs researchers recently revealed prototype Tasbi wristbands that send various types of haptic feedback through the wearer’s hands and wrists.
Tasbi was unveiled at the World Haptics Conference 2019 (via UploadVR) as a set of small boxes linked by a central band. One large box is centered to look like an oversized smartwatch, housing a haptic actuator, while each of the smaller boxes has its own linear actuator capable of precisely sending vibrations and dynamically adjusting tension from different places on the wrist.
Collectively, the Tasbi actuators can provide “vibration cues” and “squeeze cues” based on digitally generated content the wearer interacts with, vibrating from side to side to mark contacts, collisions, and interfacing with textures, or front to back to suggest the springiness of buttons and weights. Tasbi can also enable users to interact with “visual illusions” such as holograms, providing some sense of differential feedback for obviously unreal UIs or objects.
What’s missing from Tasbi is any actual control hardware. Conceptually, the wristbands would be paired with a VR/AR device’s own computer vision systemfor detecting hand and finger motions, so that the haptics could be enjoyed without the need to hold a controller. As UploadVR points out, Facebook has also explored the prospect of using a machine learning/AI wristband to interpret electrical signals as changing finger positions, which paired with Tasbi might eliminate the need for traditional controllers altogether.