Plexus is a VR Glove With Finger Haptics & Multiple Tracking Standards, $250 Dev Kits Coming Soon

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Plexus Immersive Corp, a San Francisco-based startup, announced a pair of VR gloves that integrate haptic feedback and interface with multiple tracking standards, including SteamVR, Oculus Rift, and Windows “Mixed Reality” VR. Dubbed Plexus, a pair of dev kit gloves will cost $250, and a waitlist in now available through the company’s website.

Update (July 3rd, 2018): It was previously reported that pre-orders were actively being taken, when in reality the company has only opened up reservation spots for interested developers. The headline and body of the article has been corrected to reflect this.

Plexus is made from a flexible silicone, which provides the internal electronics a measure of water resistance. The company says in a Reddit post that users will be able to rinse the glove under a tap for a quick wash. Dev kits are said to come with a pair of standard medium size gloves, although the company intends on providing smaller and larger sizes for the consumer launch, slated for sometime next year.

Like many VR gloves, haptic feedback is generated by linear resistant actuators (LRAs), which are similar to the vibrating motors found in game controllers and smartphones, but placed on each fingertip of the glove. The company says they’re currently working on replacing the LRAs with “new linear actuators that will offer a much wider range of tactile sensations though.”

Image courtesy Plexus Immersive

The company previously prototyped a model with force feedback, which would allow you to feel resistance when manipulating a virtual object, although it won’t be available in the current model.

In addition to directly manipulating virtual objects, the company is also investigating gesture tracking, something that would allow Plexus to emulate standard VR motion controllers, and be used in standard VR games not specifically created with the glove’s 21 degrees of freedom (per hand).

Image courtesy Plexus Immersive

While finger tracking is a standard feature of Plexus, absolute positional tracking (to determine where your hand is in 3D space) is offloaded to existent tracking standards. An interchangeable magnetic adapter plate mounted on the back of the hand lets you snap on various controllers, including Vive Tracker, Oculus Touch, Vive controllers, and Windows VR controllers. Plexus won’t arrive with a tracker/controller however, so it’s BYOC (bring your own controller).

Plexus Immersive is also currently prototyping a more ergonomic tracker, dubbed ‘halo’, which will effectively “replace” other purpose-built trackers and controllers. It’s unclear if the halo tracker will manufactured for both tracking standards—Oculus and SteamVR. The image of the halo tracker below appears to integrate SteamVR tracking sensors.

Image courtesy Plexus Immersive

“It features a much more ergonomic design and has better tracking stability when mounted on the hand. We’re not offering this just yet, however, as we’re still working on integrating with the various tracking solutions used by the different VR headsets,” the company says.

Dev kits, which are slated to start shipping in August this year, will arrive with free SDKs for both Unreal and Unity.

The gloves, at least from promotional material, appear to be really quite thin. This is hampered somewhat by the addition of current consumer trackers, but if the halo tracker can really provide tracking as accurate as the more bulky motion controllers, Plexus may be one of the first VR gloves to offer an all-in-one tracking design.

Specs

  • Measurement System: 21 Degrees of freedom per hand
  • Tactile Feedback: 5 (one per finger) tactile actuators
  • Wireless: 2.4GHz Custom Low Latency Protocol
  • Compatibility: Unity, Unreal Engine, C++, C#, Python
  • SDK: Unity and Unreal Engine haptic rapid application development toolkit, including drop in haptic hand rigs and interactive objects ready to use with developer artwork assets
  • Compatibility: VR Integration / tracking options: Vive, Oculus Rift, Windows Mixed Reality. Can be used with any Windows, Linux or Mac environment through the C++ and Python API
  • Battery life: 2 to 3 hours depending on feedback usage
    Refresh rate: 180hz, engine synchronized for VR

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  • Jan Ciger

    Guys, LRA stands for Linear Resonant Actuator, not resistant …

    $250/pair is cheap but if it is “one size fits all” (err none) that’s going to be a problem. (no, having to buy another entire kit because someone has larger/smaller hands is not really a solution).

    I am also not very enthusiastic about this vibration motor “haptics”. It sorta kinda works and is probably better than not having anything, but it is also extremely far from being realistic.

    I just hope they will do better than Manus or Noitom – if someone thinks they can sell a crappy untracked glove for $5000 (Manus!) in this day and age, they have to be delusional.

    • Hey Jan, for the initial Dev Kits it’s “one size fits many”. We will be releasing Small and Large at an undetermined point, but for the Regular, we’ve spent many nights adjusting the geometry and silicone hardness to make it compliant to ‘slightly smaller than medium’ to ‘super large’. For the largest hands in the office you definitely do feel the strain on your fingers after some time.

      We will be releasing a size chart very shortly if you’re keen to know more!

    • Daniel Wu

      Neither Noitom nor Manus offer a $5000 glove. Both use Vive trackers (just like this Plexus glove). Both Noitom as well as Manus are actually shipping a product. This Plexus is a promise so far, a nice and interesting one, but not available yet.

  • mellott124

    Flex sensor or EAP sensor based? Hopefully not another MEMs glove. I’d recommend you never never show the controllers mounted to the back of the gloves ever again. Focus on the custom SteamVR tracking module. It’s what every other glove design lacks. The Vive Tracker is ‘OK’ but also doesn’t look great. The glove design itself looks fantastic.

    • Re the glove tracking. We offer adapters for all the major systems so you don’t need to make any extra purchases to get going for development. We think its a pretty neat solution, all things considering.
      We are looking forward to getting our tracking module out also, but hardware takes time, and we want you guys to play with some gloves!

      • mellott124

        Understand why your offering it. Thanks for the update. Great work! One of the more exciting glove updates I’ve seen in years.

  • Hey Guys, I’m one of the creators these gloves. If you have any questions, I’m more than happy to answer here!

    • mellott124

      Congrats. The flexible glove design is really nice. Can you share anything about what you’re using for flex sensors?

      • Thanks!!

        I wish we could share more re sensing at this point – it’s a proprietary system.

        • We will update with a tech breakdown at an undetermined point, if that helps..

    • beeeees

      Why would you name it Plexus when there is a crappy MLM/Pyramid Scheme company named the same thing? Might want to change that.

    • Zachary Scott Dickerson

      I would love to chat sometime if you like. We could do mutal NDA’s etc. I’m designing a similar product for a different industry and have lots of ideas to toss around.

    • Have you used this w/ the Vive EV2?

      What is it like w/ it?

      What does this do and EV2 does not(Other than feeling resistance)?

      What does resistance even feel like?

    • Have you considered adding a wrist sensor? i.e. one that tracks the bend of the wrist. 2-axis would be good, but at least add a sensor to track the primary bend of the wrist.

      It’s great to have fine detail of finger movements in VR. But one of the reasons doing arm IK can be unreliable is because controllers and gloves like these only have a tracking point at the hand, and the wrist has such a wide range of movement it’s extremely difficult to figure out what pose the arm is in. Knowing how the wrist is bending (something that should be easy to do from a glove) would make IK algorithms for arms so much more reliable.

      • Hi Daniel,

        You can access the system through the magnets, so it is technically feasible with the current version with a peripheral. Whether we make this will be dependent on developer feedback from the DKs.

        We definitely share your sentiment on down-the-arm IK reliability!

    • brandon9271

      Have you guys experimented with the idea of have the Vive or Touch controllers mounted to the palm similar to knuckles? I know that would probably limit hand movement but have buttons and triggers are nice for many applications. I would suggest have a few buttons on the “halo” device at least as an option for those that want them.

      • We have toyed with the idea, though in a virtual environment you can build out the a haptically responsive interface panel as intricate as you desire. Or have gestural mapping of buttons, there are many, many possibilities.

    • Slaziar

      Can you go into more detail on the 21DOF? 21DOF is an actual thing with X,Y,Z axis, A,B,C rotational on each axis, pitch yaw, roll, 2 straighness for each axis & 3 squareness.

      You mention 21DOF per glove, but don’t mention what joints and axis it’s measuring.
      So could you explain where each measurement is taken and what degrees of freedom they measure?

      • Yeah, I’d like to know where the 21 comes from too. I only see 17 independently movable axis on the fingers+thumb of my hand. (3 axis per finger (x and y at the knuckle + x at the middle joint; the joint at the tip of your finger is not independent, it’s based on the middle joint’s motion), 3 for the thumb, and 2 more for the extra joint that can move the position of the thumb’s knuckle)

        • Slaziar

          The joint near the tip of the fingers is certainly somewhat independent, but is influenced by the knuckle. I should know, I broke a finger bone at that joint where the tendon connects (The tendon held onto the bone but the bone chipped away). If you make a fist with your fingers pointing to your palm, then make a fist where your fingers are pointing toward your wrist. It could be tracking those movements.

          • Hey guys, absolutely.

            So starting from the thumb: for the joint near the nail, or the interphalangeal (IP) theres 1DOF. For the next joint
            , the metacarpophalangeal (MCP) we have 2DOF, for the carpometacarpal (CMC) we have 2DOF. So thats 5DOF Total for the thumb.

            For each following digit we have 1DOF on the distal interphalangeal (DIP), 1 DOF on the proximal (PIP), and 2DOF on the MCP. So 4DOF each.

            So thats 21DOF total.

          • Slaziar

            Thanks for the reply, it sounds exciting with that tracking. The linear actuators – I’m not very familiar with them, but will they provide resistance for each finger so you can make it feel like you’re holding a torch for example? If so, I can’t wait!

    • Trip

      Charles thanks for posting here, I’m excited about your product and it means a lot to see you address us in this way.

      I wanted to bring to your attention the fact that this type of peripheral is sorely needed by the serious Flight Simulation community. Currently in X-Plane and DCS world at least (not sure about the current state of these things in FSX/P3D), we can use VR controllers to operate switches and knobs, but the thing is we have to put down the controllers to use our joystick/yoke/throttle etc. We need a controller we can use those types of physical controls with, and then take our hand off the “real” control to reach over and operate switches etc.

      If possible, please take a look. X-Plane currently has the best VR control options AFAIK, so that would likely be the best place to start. DCS World has broader appeal, as the combat makes it attract gamers in addition to simmers.

      Thank you for your time and consideration,
      Trip

    • Kenji Fujimori

      I know of a company interested in Haptics, PM and I can tell you.

    • Dave Hill

      I have a question with regard to the haptics; is there functionality (or planning) to enable the device to ‘tug’ the fingers back, so as to prevent fist closure and give at least a vague impression that one has grasped, e.g., a baseball bat, firearm or door handle because the fingers actually experience resistance?

      • Hi Dave, force feedback is something we’ve been exploring for a while. We wont implement them into this version of the glove. We wanted to get something out that would be realistically affordable for everyone to use, so for now included features that will give a high resolution of dexterity and a good perception of tactility. Hope that helps.

  • Bartosz

    Do i have to buy 2 separate vive trackers for it to work? If yes, is there a chance i could use the Vive Wands instead?

    • We offer adapters for Oculus, Vive, and WMR controllers. So you don’t need to buy anything more to set up for development. It is slightly more comfortable to use with the Vive trackers rather than the Vive Wand, due to the moment of inertia from the wand mount. We’ll get a video update in the coming week with a more in depth explanation :)

  • Jonathan Pratte

    Nice looking.

  • Zachary Scott Dickerson

    These would be great to combine with the Stryker VR / Haptic rifle. It has a linear motor for recoil like a real rifle, but you can’t reload with your hands, with this, you could have both.

  • Sandy Wich

    Idk how successful this product may be in the future, but I am extremely interested in realistic steps forward in removing the traditional controller for proper VR experiences without it being a gimmick or ridiculously over complicated.

    I’d love to feel grabbing a door, shaking an NPC’s hand, holding a gun, throwing a ball someday, and have it be practical at the same time.

    Okay lets be honest, I also wanna feel a pair o-

  • Kenji Fujimori

    Wow.

  • Metal Knight(urNemesis)

    looks promising, hope it’s goes mainstream soon