HaptX, the company building high-end haptic VR gloves for enterprises, launched its latest model, DK2, which is now available for purchase. The new version is said to have improved haptics, force-feedback, size, comfort, and manufacturability.
Previously, HaptX was only able to loan evaluation units of its gloves to interested parties, because the company was “severely limited in the number of units we could manufacture,” says CEO Jake Rubin. With the newly announced DK2 model, the company says it has streamlined the design which has enabled it to manufacture enough of the gloves to sell them outright.
“[Our manufacturing capacity was limited] due to a combination of the high complexity of our system, the number of novel components and production processes involved, and our limited manufacturing experience as a startup. Our manufacturing challenges were one of the primary catalysts behind our comprehensive partnership with Advanced Input Systems,” says Rubin “[…] we have been able to radically streamline manufacturing of the system. This has enabled us to finally satisfy the demand we’ve generated with our DK1 and earlier prototype systems by allowing customers to purchase DK2 outright and begin deploying HaptX technology at scale within their organizations.”
Part of that streamlining process also means slimming the system down. The Air Controller unit, which powers the pneumatic-based haptics in the gloves, once weighed 180 pounds. While the gloves are far from compact, with HaptX DK2 the company has reduced the system’s overall size enough to be able to mount the Air Controller on the user’s back. “We do expect that many, if not most, of our customers will use the system in room-scale [backpack] mode given the enhanced immersion and mobility,” Rubin says.
Unfortunately the backpack unit doesn’t include the computer hardware necessary for the VR headset itself, so users will still need to be tethered to a PC or use a wireless solution.
Beyond the smaller Air Controller and improved manufacturing, Rubin says the DK2 has a handful of other improvements.
The force-feedback system can now apply up to 40 pounds of resistance per hand, and also has better stiffness and lower latency. The finger-tracking hardware in the gloves has also been massively shrunk down from two external boxes to a small board which is built directly into the gloves. Further, Rubin says, the gloves have improved fit and ergonomics, and are easier to put on and take off.
With these improvements, HaptX is now selling their gloves directly to enterprise customers. Though an official price hasn’t been announced, we understand the cost to be in the tens of thousands of dollars per unit.
That huge price tag puts the HaptX DK2 gloves in the high-end of the already expensive enterprise-focused VR sector, among the likes of Varjo’s enterprise headsets. While the company surely expects to further slim its gloves down in both size and price, if there’s buyers out there today we’d expect to find them in massive industries like military, medical, automotive, et al.