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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 that realism a step further by physically feeling the objects you encounter in-game? That’s the question behind HaptX Inc.’s new haptic gloves, which use tactile feedback to make VR experiences more immersive.

The HaptX Gloves G1 includes two kinesthetic feedback gloves and a wireless “Airpack,” the latter of which can be worn by the user as a backpack or placed on a nearby table. The Airpack is responsible for generating compressed air and controlling airflow, both of which are essential for conducting detailed tactile feedback. The gloves themselves, which come in four sizes, contain hundreds of microfluidic actuators that move the skin with each pulse. This gives the user the feeling that the objects they touch and interact with in the virtual space are real.

The product is intended for the “enterprise metauniverse” or VR experiences created by or intended for corporate entities. As HaptX suggests in the video above, some larger organizations have recently expressed interest in conducting training in the metaverse, while others believe it could transform the way people shop. If this interest survives the volatile future of the metaverse and becomes a true commitment, companies may be able to forgo physical learning materials and interactive product displays in favor of virtual ones.

Whether this would be financially viable depends on the company. The HaptX G1 gloves cost $5,495 per pair with a $495 monthly fee. The fee is part of HaptX’s inevitable subscription program, which includes service, support and the company’s software development kit (SDK). The HaptX SDK is said to allow developers to include Unreal Engine and Unity plugins, use the C++ API, and take advantage of features already built into the product, such as advanced vibrotactile feedback and a haptic multiplayer feature that allows multiple users to “feel” the same objects. (Sound familiar?)

HaptX claims its G1 gloves are much more affordable than their predecessor, the HaptX Gloves DK2, which cost over $10,000 apiece, which is expensive even for the enterprise VR scene. Still, despite the price and physical bulk of the HaptX Gloves G1, 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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