Long before Facebook Officially rebranding itself as Meta — a signal to the world that it’s getting more serious about virtual and augmented reality technologies — the company is beginning to reveal key parts of the envisioned metaverse.
The Meta Quest 2 (née Oculus Quest 2) has already been considered one of the best wireless headsets available for virtual reality. Recently, executives from Meta Reality Labs, the company’s research and development arm, unveiled a wearable device on the wrist that translates the nerve signals of the electric motor into digital commands and an upcoming “Project Cambria” headset that supposedly supports photorealistic avatars and eye tracking. advanced.
Now, the controversy-ridden social media company—because it’s still a social media company, and it’s still controversial—is unveiling another of its futuristic virtual reality models. This time it’s a haptic glove designed to give the wearer the feel and weight of real objects when interacted with in a virtual space. Slip on that gauntlet, and you’ll be convinced that you’re holding the real thing (or something close to it), even when the object is entirely digital.
Michael Abrash, chief scientist at Meta Reality Labs, and Shaun Keeler, director of research sciences at the labs, say the tactile glove has been in the works for several years and is still close to releasing it to the public. But it’s another part of the meta’s big AR/VR picture, one where scenery, sound, and touch fuse together to make the augmented digital world more realistic.
“What we’re trying to do is figure out how to give you rich feedback so that your hands are completely useful,” Abrash says. “This is an essential piece and one of the hardest and most dangerous pieces in the long run, but once it’s put in place, VR can truly become an environment where almost everything is possible that you can do effectively.”
The problem Meta is trying to solve is a real one in VR, one that other companies have also challenged. Slide on a VR headset, and you’ll be cut off from the real world. Slide on a VR headset with inside-out tracking — the term most used to describe sensors and cameras that capture the environment around you — and VR navigation becomes more manageable.
But then when you try to use your physical hands to pick up virtual things, the whole flirtation with virtual reality falls flat again. Suddenly he feels confused. Controls, like the ones shipped with the Quest 2, are a convenient proxy for hands and at least let you navigate menus or play games while wearing a full headset. However, these are mostly input devices and don’t give you the kind of haptic feedback you get with your actual hands.