Meta previews his work on advanced haptic gloves that would facilitate connection in the Metaverse This should excite those looking forward to an all-encompassing Metaverse experience, while also likely chilling expectations of when that next-level experience will become a reality.
Today, Meta the company formerly known as Facebook shared some new insights into its work on developing haptic gloves that would make it possible to feel and interact with virtual objects in digital space.
The following is an explanation from Meta:
“Consider yourself working on a virtual 3D puzzle with a realistic 3D avatar created by a buddy. As soon as you take up a virtual puzzle piece from the table, your fingers stop moving and you can feel it inside your grasp.
While holding it up for a closer look, you’ll notice the sharpness of its corners and the smoothness of its surface, which will be followed by a pleasant snap as you slide it into the slot.
That is remarkable progress, but as you can see in this video, the reality of them being a reasonably priced and easily available tool for ordinary customers is still a long way off. Take a look at the tangle of cables that connect these prototypes, for example.
No one knows how far away such things may be, but Meta claims it took them seven years to reach this position, which included building whole new technological advancements and elements in order to match the project’s requirements.
As an illustration:
A haptic glove requires hundreds of actuators (small motors) that are dispersed throughout the hand and move in such a way that the wearer feels as if they are touching a virtual object in order to provide a genuine feeling of touch.
However, the heat generated by present mechanical actuators is too considerable for such a glove to be pleasant to wear during the day. Furthermore, they are too huge, rigid, expensive, and energy-intensive to accurately mimic true haptic sensations.
In order to achieve these requirements, Meta had to create additional actuators, which increased not only the technical complexity but also the expense.
And, given that automobile door lock actuators typically cost around $200 each, you should be able to get a reasonable estimate of how much it may cost to purchase a functional version of these gloves, which have “hundreds” of little batteries attached to the palm of your hand.
So we’re a long way away from being able to pick up these items at the local Walmart and disappear into virtual worlds. However, they are on their way, and they herald a new, more immersive future in the metaverse. But we haven’t gotten there yet.
The change in Facebook’s meta name may have caused some confusion at this point, as emerging technology leaders and investors rush to invest in anything that includes the term “Metaverse” in the description to ensure that they are ahead of the curve and the next technological advance to lead the way.
Social media was largely overlooked when it initially became popular, with many dismissing it as a transitory trend. Many people are now desperate to avoid making the same mistake again.
However, we are still a long way from having a fully functional metaverse, as envisioned by Meta and others, which would incorporate global, co-created digital worlds that are open to all and enable all new sorts of avatar-based interaction and interaction with other avatars.
This disconnect between vision and reality could be at the root of the recent explosion of interest in NFTs, which many believe will open the door to a new level of digital art display in virtual worlds, as well as the creation of AR/VR avatars based on animated character representations, among other things.
Although we do not yet have the schematic requirements for a universal metaverse, no one knows what will be required to create 3D avatars and characters, or who will be hosting the digital realms in which such characters could exist. This is true even though we do not yet have the schematic requirements for a universal metaverse.
Investors, on the other hand, see profit. Somewhere. Future digital art galleries may find value in these early NFT productions, and perhaps the greater community surrounding certain NFTs will spur the next step. Hopefully, this is the case.
However, as the results of Meta’s haptic glove studies demonstrate, that future phase is still a long way off and a great deal of research work needs to be completed before we can enable immersive digital engagement, at least at the level that is now being discussed.
As Meta herself points out,
According to the researchers, “several of the technologies required for believable haptic experiences in virtual and augmented reality do not yet exist.”
This type of development can speed swiftly and even creep up on you if you aren’t paying close attention.
However, it’s important to note the disparity between where we are and where we will be in the future, as well as what this means for short-term metaverse-related investing.