The haptic glove now gives human operators the ability to not only control what a robot does, but to feel what it feels. Psychological studies have proven that a sense of touch is essential for dexterity and manipulation. The haptic glove provides that and allows robotics operators to manipulate a hand or other end effector with unmatched control.
Humans will now be able to take further advantage of the strength, speed, and robustness of machines. The haptic glove was designed to experience the most accuracy with the least latency. One of the first tests for the glove was using it to type a message on a keyboard 5,442 miles away. Typing is a good example of why touch is critical to the way humans function. If humans relied only on sight, they’d forever be stuck pecking away at one letter at a time.
Improvement of Industrial-Grade Haptic Technology
Haptics is the science of technology and touch. Haptic feedback has long been associated with vibrating motors, but the feel of an object isn’t the same as a vibration. Advanced haptic technology lets a person feel the shape, movement, texture, and weight of an object. The glove features 130 microfluidic actuators that push against a user’s skin in the same way a real object would.
Many of the most biomimetic tactile sensors available are fully integrated into the haptic glove. They can sense everything a person's fingertips can feel, including force, vibration, and temperature. They have been mounted on the most advanced anthropomorphic hand available for robots.
When paired with other technologies such as microfluidic skin, haptic feedback can be nearly indistinguishable from human touch. At only 1.5mm thick, microfluidic skin offers a combination of high actuator density, displacement, and bandwidth.
Exciting Applications for the Haptic Glove
The developers of the haptic glove hope it will be used in applications like bomb disposal and nuclear commissioning. Human proximity to such a task is filled with risk, but accurate manipulation is necessary. A sense of touch is required to avoid placing undue force on an object or damaging mechanisms. Handling radioactive materials without a sense of what one is doing can be difficult and stressful.
Some other places the glove could be used include clean rooms or pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities where humans can contaminate the environment. The haptic glove makes more immersive interactive experiences possible. When combined with virtual reality, users could touch, feel, see, and hear what a robot experiences on the other side of the planet or even on distant worlds.
Learn more about haptic technology in collaborative robots by reading our technical article Robots and AI in the OR.