Having both the haptic (touching) and force feedback (gripping) information conveyed through your hands also means that you don’t need to rely completely on your eyes for that information, which opens the door to reliably manipulating objects that you aren’t directly looking at.

I tested this with the cube rotating motion. I would begin twisting the cube and then look completely away from it, completely relying on the feedback through my hands to continue rotating it. Amazingly, it actually worked. It was definitely easy to accidentally drop the cube, but the fact that it worked at all demonstrated to me how critical this  feedback is to interacting naturally with the virtual world, and showed me that HaptX is on a promising path.

– – — – –

Fit and function is still the key challenge for HaptX to unlock the glove’s full potential. This is a good thing, I’d say, as haptics and force feedback is usually the challenging part.

Photo by Road to VR


Putting on the HaptX glove is still something of a procedure, and it’s so bulky that it’s tough to do anything else once the glove is on—I even found it challenging just to tighten my own glove or my headset. While the micro-pneumatic arrays are capable of impressively detailed feedback across your palm and fingertips, if the pads aren’t fit snugly against your skin then they can’t impart much force, which is why the fit is crucial.

The HaptX glove is powered by sizeable hardware, but it has shrunk over time. | Photo by Road to VR

It’s clear that the company understands this challenge; it’s an area they say they’re increasingly focusing on. Although it’s obviously bulky, the latest HaptX glove is actually smaller, lighter, and more comfortable than prior iterations. And while they are still working with just a single glove size for development, in the future they expect to offer multiple sizes which will better suit different hands. The briefcase-sized box that powers the glove has also been shrunk and refined, now fitting the tech for two gloves into a similar size previously required for just one.

HaptX’s glove offers the most detailed and convincing haptics and force feedback that I’ve tried to date. It isn’t perfect, but their trajectory is promising and I’m excited to see how far they can advance the experience.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • impurekind

    This will be great when/if they can do it with gloves/devices that aren’t giant and basically totally impractical for the most part.

  • Bryan Ischo

    I don’t see tech like this being consumer ready for decades at least. However, it could be very useful for specialized applications like virtual remote surgery or virtual training for specific applications. This will never be a high volume product but maybe it could sell at high prices to a limited number of companies.

    • jj

      i see tech like this being consumer ready within the decade…. The tech is there now all they need to do is shrink it. There are already knock off cheaper versions that pick and chose some of the features these have. So i agree that right now it is too bulky and expensive but come on decades at least? these aren’t crazy new tech, just a combination of existing tech.

      • Bryan Ischo

        I base my evaluation on an assumption that until the form factor is much less bulky and cumbersome, these devices will not be consumer ready. It needs to be more like a glove with built in tech and less like a large, unwieldy set of actuators and motors. And I think that will take alot of advancement in all kinds of technologies, technologies that are going to develop slowly because the market is not exactly throwing cash at these problems left and right.

        Consider that it’s been 2.5 years since the Vive was released and we barely have any new headsets with any significant advancements in headset tech yet. So the time scale for VR advancement has already been shown to be years, and that’s with the most in-demand and globally applicable part of VR technology.

        I’ll be honest – I was trying to be optimistic and generous when I said ‘decades’. I think it’s much more likely that we won’t have anything like this in our lifetimes.

        • Mei Ling

          ” I think it’s much more likely that we won’t have anything like this in our lifetimes.”

          Does our mean you and your wife at the age of 90 years? If so then yes you are correct.

          • namekuseijin

            I remember seeing prototype VR gloves like this to touch virtual objects 20 years or more ago when VR was first talked about, but it was only available to researchers and scientists. Now, just as VR headsets, it’ll actually become available to consumers, although still cumbersome and expensive…

            some 20 years from now, may be widespread, but I may be dead or nearing my 70s…

          • Mei Ling

            “in our lifetimes” generally means anyone who is old enough to use the internet to go and read and understand his comment which, frankly, reeked of pessimism to the extremes.

            To say that humans will never achieve the capability to develop technology that allows “true” physical interaction with a virtual environment within the next seventy or so decades is completely naive and close-minded.

            The technology will get there and most definitely 99.9% “in our lifetimes” but the pace at which it gets there is highly dependent on the market.

            You also have to understand that Virtual Reality is not a gimmick at all; it is the end goal of human escapism. Technology that allows people to do what they want, how they want and where they want inside a world that doesn’t change anything about themselves in the real world is an inherent desire that exists in all of us. Books are read, music and moving pictures are consumed on a regular basis, daydreams happen; this is all technically “virtual reality” for the sake of escapism. And this is exactly the urge that will propel the technology to greater heights and ensure VR is here to stay.

        • Mo Last

          LMAOOO are you that deluded? We won’t see this in OUR LIFETIME? LOOOOOOOOL

          mate, max 10 years. Absolute max. I predict we’ll have this in 5-7 years.

          • Bryan Ischo

            OK Mo. If you say so. Your comment would be alot more useful if you’d give some reasons behind your feelings, but I guess all you want is for everyone to make their guesses so that you can laugh at any that don’t match your own.

            No point in discussing it further; but in 5 – 7 years if Disqus and RoadToVR still exist, we can revisit this discussion then.

          • Tomas Sandven

            The only way I see us not getting a good customer version of this tech within our lifetime is if the world ends or the VR market completely dies and never recovers. As the market grows, technological improvements are just going to accelerate, and haptic feedback is extremely important for convincing and user friendly VR.

        • Bob

          We won’t have anything like this in our lifetimes? Bloody hell what are you smoking?

          • Bryan Ischo

            Can we have a rational discussion or does this have to devolve into stupid commentary?

            I just don’t think that the tech will ever be compelling enough to be in demand enough to actually become a product.

            Probably if you had told someone from the 1950’s that we would never have flying cars in our lifetime they would have had the same reaction you are having.

            The thing is, not all tech is inevitable. I think there will be other more useful and commonplace ways to interact with VR than haptic gloves and as a result, nobody will bother making these things a consumer product.

            I could be wrong though – we’ll see.

          • Varmintbaby

            I think you are wrong. Look how fast tech has gone just in my lifetime
            (37 here). We’ve gone from 8 bit NES to the ridiculous games and
            graphics we have now. These VR gloves will be retail ready within 20
            years at the latest. Unless you’re 70 years old or something, they will
            be ready in our lifetime. Maybe even faster. Thinking about the
            progression from tapes, to CDs, to DVDs, to Blu-Rays, and now to
            streamed digital content. That’s how fast tech is moving nowadays.

          • fforcey

            There’s an old saying in tech which is that we always overestimate how much technology will evolve in 2 to 3 years and underestimate how much technology will evolve in 10 years.

  • Gary

    What about weight though. I would like to feel like I’m carrying 2kg if the virtual object is weighed 2kg.

    • Andrew McEvoy

      Interesting! How could that be done though? Boggles the imagination.

      • Gary

        Maybe activated magnetic field of some sort lol I’m not sure

      • brandon9271

        An exoskeleton with motors at every joint could simulate weight by pulling your arm down. Shouldn’t be too difficult.. once you have the full body exoskeleton part figured out. Lol

    • Net Shaman

      The Tesla suit is your answer to this , it handles weight simulation as i can know.

  • Gary

    All these gears are cool but we need something that helps us put on and take off all these gadgets or else it’s just too much hassle. U know like Iron Man in the movie when he returns home all the robotics help him take off all his armour piece by piece.

  • JAFO

    Considering VR porn, I hope they are working on one for my dick too.

    • Downvote King

      It’s called teledildonics and it’s already a thing.

      • JAFO

        JAFO says thanks for the tip.

        • Downvote King

          Happy to help… even if it’s just the tip

  • If you say that is good, I trust you. But somewhere else I’ve read that using them more than half an hour is too tiresome… and so I ask myself if they can be useful for enterprise training at this point…

  • Albert Hartman

    Great to hear from your report that haptics which attempt to reproduce actual hand-object forces improves the virtual interactions dramatically. Visual-only is pretty limited. And so far today, only vibration motors have been used that are so poor that pretty few applications make extensive use of them. The super-high-tech do-everything research approach here looks pretty far into the future. I’m guessing some viable in-between haptics tech that’s not so high-end future-y will probably show up before then.

  • Sandy Wich

    I used to think this was silly, but then I realized how much simple vibrating motors inside controllers increased my immersion in gaming ages ago.

    Hope this research helps to make VR better someday. >:D

  • Regardless of how long it takes to reach release, I’m interested… very interested. Ever since the movie “Johnny Mnemonic” came out, I’ve wanted his wireless VR system, which used gloves like these. I always thought it was cool AF that he used a software keyboard pulled down like a ball hanging in the air inside VR, that worked accurately to type-by-touch with the VR gloves providing the feedback feeling of keys.

    Everytime I play Apex Construct, and have to type into a virtual keyboard within the game, it makes me think back to that movie and that VR system and wish I had gloves that could type directly to that keyboard, naturally, as if it were a real keyboard on a real desk. The more cool things we have for VR, the more and more time I’ll spend within. As is, I’m in VR at least 20 hours per week, but I could dig doing more there if I could easily run an entire computing environment from within VR, seamlessly, and use haptic gloves for input. It’d be fantastic on days that I need to update servers, to be able to suspend SSH terminals in the air around me, and just reach out, grab one and start typing naturally into it with the same effect I’d get if I were using a normal workstation without VR. At that point, I could work with a lot more data at once, no longer having to depend on screens… just hang apps in the air. :)

  • ummm…

    i thought those wires on the back of the hand restrict movement of fingers when emulating hard surfaces. can somebody read this article and tell me if that sort of thing is mentioned at all.

    • benz145

      One time service, free of charge.

      The second is force feedback, which is about pushing back or inhibiting the user’s movement in the same way that a corresponding physical object would. To this end, the HaptX glove has a mechanical brake on each finger which can prevent the finger from bending any further. For instance, when gripping a baseball, your fingers come in contact with the sides of the ball and are physically stopped by it. The HaptX glove simulates this by stopping your fingers from moving past where the point that they would stop if you were really holding a physical object.”

      • ummm…

        ooooooooo cool. thank you. THAT is interesting my friend. this certainly adds another dynamic that is new and novel, in my limited knowledge. so cool.