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These Haptic Gloves for the Metaverse Require ‘Airpack,’ Cost $495 Per Month

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(Photo: HaptX Inc.)
Virtual reality (VR) experiences can be impressively realistic. In fact, some are so convincing that users forget they’re seeing something fictional or end up using VR to treat certain phobias. But what if you could take this realism a step further by physically feeling the items you encounter in-game? That’s the question behind HaptX Inc.’s new haptic gloves, which use tactile responses to make VR experiences feel more immersive.

HaptX Gloves G1 incorporate two kinaesthetic feedback gloves and a wireless “Airpack,” the latter of which can either be worn by the user like a backpack or set on a table nearby. The Airpack is responsible for generating compressed air and controlling the air’s flow, both of which are essential to conducting detailed haptic feedback. The gloves themselves, which come in four sizes, contain hundreds of microfluidic actuators that displace the skin with each pulse. This gives the user the sensation that the objects they’re touching and interacting with in the virtual space are real.

The product is meant for the “enterprise metaverse,” or VR experiences created by or dedicated for corporate entities. As HaptX suggests in the video above, some larger organizations have recently expressed interest in conducting training within the metaverse, while others believe it could transform the way people shop. If that interest endures the metaverse’s shaky future and turns into true commitment, companies might be able to forgo physical training materials and interactive product displays in favor of virtual ones.

Whether that’d be financially viable depends on the company. HaptX Gloves G1 cost $5,495 per pair with a $495 monthly fee. The fee is part of the unavoidable HaptX Subscription program, which includes service, maintenance, and the company’s software development kit (SDK). The HaptX SDK is said to enable developers to incorporate Unreal Engine and Unity plugins, utilize C++ API, and take advantage of features already built into the product, like advanced vibrotactile feedback and a haptic multiplayer feature that allows multiple users to “feel” the same objects. (Sound familiar?)

HaptX argues its Gloves G1 are far more accessible than their predecessor, the HaptX Gloves DK2, which cost over $10,000 per unit, which is pricey even for the enterprise VR scene. Still, despite the HaptX Gloves G1’s cost and physical bulk, it’s impressive that users can feel different textures, manipulate virtual materials, and otherwise physically experience simulations. VR cat cafe, anyone?

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