AI SILK is a Japanese wearable-tech startup that’s set to unveil a new haptic glove at CES 2023 next month which approaches both haptic feedback and finger-tracking in a different way altogether.

AI SILK is a Tohoku University spinoff that develops wearable products using their patented technology to produce smooth conductive fiber, turning them into electrodes that can be used for a number of things.

Called Lead Skin, the controller houses these conductive fibers, which not only provides finger-tracking and control buttons on the back of the gauntlet-style controller, but also an electrical haptic pulse that aims to simulate manipulating virtual objects.

Image courtesy AI SILK

Weighing in at 380g (~13.5oz), or about the weight of two Quest 2 controllers with batteries included, Lead Skin is said to measure the current impedance from the expansion and contraction of the fabric within, and then through deep machine learning-developed algorithms “understand the intended actions from glove wearers’ physical finger movements,” AI Silk says in a press statement.

Image courtesy AI SILK

Electrical pulses are sent to both the palm and fingers, which is a decidedly shocking departure from the standard haptic motor buzzes that we’ve seen in other VR gloves.

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While specs are still thin on the ground, the flashy promo video is certainly something to behold, if not only for its peek inside the Japanese idol industry, which regularly host handshake events. It’s not clear how resistance training and face-punching fit into Lead Skin’s actual feature set, but the spot certainly looks electrifying, as our protagonist is recognized as the idol’s online training partner.

AI Silk’s Lead Skin haptic gloves will debut at CES 2023 between January 5-8, where we’ll have feet on the ground. Check back soon for more info on Lead Skin and all of the latest AR/VR tech out there at the biggest trade shows of the year.

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Well before the first modern XR products hit the market, Scott recognized the potential of the technology and set out to understand and document its growth. He has been professionally reporting on the space for nearly a decade as Editor at Road to VR, authoring more than 3,500 articles on the topic. Scott brings that seasoned insight to his reporting from major industry events across the globe.
  • Ok that ad was hilariously bad, the CGI was amazing but it didn’t really show what the gloves could do at all XD That aside, I am actually kinda excited for these, hope the feedback is good and the tracking is ok cause they look kinda sick and using electrical stimulation for feedback is an interesting move! Wonder if Thrillseeker will get to try them at CES

  • Charles

    Reading countless articles over the years about new startups in early stages of developing new attempts at VR gloves, I’ve just realized something:

    Each of these articles feels like a “new match” on a dating app. Every now and then, you get a “new match”, and get excited – as the old “new matches” eventually fade away into nothing.

    I wonder if viable VR gloves will ever actually be released… not holding my breath.

    • XRC

      Been experimenting with “gloves” and there are many issues with fit, hygiene and durability.

      Arguably the “dorsal strap” design of Index controller (and aftermarket straps for Oculus, etc.) has negated the hands free glove approach?

      • Charles

        Fit: make different sizes.

        Hygene: washable separate inner lining.

        Durability: offer discounted replacements.

    • david vincent

      I think VR gloves are doomed : too much friction and not much added value compared to modern VR controllers.

      • Charles

        But they have the advantage of being the most natural and immersive (short of perfected gloveless finger tracking). If they ever perfect force feedback, it would be revolutionary for immersion.

        In 2009 I tried a pair of VR gloves in a research lab affiliated with a university. They worked great and were comfortable. I don’t understand why 13 years later they still can’t release something like that. Price?

        • david vincent

          Because as I already said, VR gloves don’t have enough added value compared to VR controllers. Controllers already have fingers tracking to some extent, they have buttons & joystick, you feel something in your hand, they are quick and easy to put on, etc. It will be very hard to beat Touch or Index controllers.

          • Charles

            Feeling something in your hand reminds you it’s just a game, reducing immersion in scenarios where you aren’t supposed to be holding anything.

            Force feedback could simulate holding a controller.

          • Joel

            That’s true as long as your goal isn’t to navigate a virtual environment that is indistinguishable from navigating one that is real. There is a reason why the Nintendo Switch has continued to sell competitively against it’s more ‘heavy duty’ competitors. There’s always a market for games that are just that.

            However, the goal of total immersion continues to be the long term goal, and gloves, suits, and other accessories advance that goal further than controllers ever can.

  • Andrew Jakobs

    First thing that came to my mind, the nintendo powerglove, haha.

    • Ookami

      I actually saw one of those in a local comics shop I visited!

    • I had the same thought!

  • ViRGiN

    i bet it’s coming to kickstarter lmao

    yet another obsolete trash
    maybe pimax futurists will want this to use in main menu of steam

  • Mike EY

    Why is machine learning used when you have direct finger movments already…

    • Jay

      Doesn’t actually track movement, just impedance changes as glove fingers contract so presumably needs to do tricky calculations to know if your bending finger tip Vs knuckle

  • Martin

    Another dead in the water bloatfest. Save your money, it will be nothing like the trailer, which is a nothing burger in itself.

    Lots of loner single boys out there. I wonder, if the world caters to this type of existence, who will be left to do any actual work?

    All that will be left is a bunch of scared, introverted, horny, anime obsessed man children who couldn’t put in a hard day’s work if the end of the world was dependent upon it. No social skills, and only know a GDP that gives them whatever they whine for enough.

    That future is scary and horrible.

    • Ogolas.S

      I haven’t lost that much faith in humanity.

  • I wonder how dependable the conduction is? Lots of things can alter skin conductivity. Unless we slime ourselves up with conductive gel and shave our arms, it might not work so well for many people. Also there’s the whole thing about needing to shock your body repeatedly. That can’t be good for the ion channels in nerve cells over time.

  • ZarathustraDK

    Can we just start with some controller gloves without all the haptic stuff? Something that “just works” and doesn’t require third-party calibration software to use. Thanks.

  • Carlos

    I think gloves will only replace controllers when they have hepatic feedback + a great force feedback. Unfortunally the only glove I saw having them both was that one that has 100 wires that were attached to a giant box.