Deep in the basement of the Sands Expo Hall at CES was an area of emerging technologies called Eureka Park, which had a number of VR start-ups hoping to connect with suppliers, manufacturers, investors, or media in order to launch a product or idea. There was an early-stage haptic start-up called Go Touch VR showing off a haptic ring that simulated the type of pressure your finger might feel when pressing a button. I’d say that their demo was still firmly within the uncanny valley of awkwardness, but CEO Eric Vezzoli has a Ph.D. in haptics and was able to articulate an ambitious vision and technical roadmap towards a low-cost and low-fidelity haptics solution.
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Vezzoli quoted haptics guru Vincent Hayward as claiming that haptics is an ‘infinite degree of freedom problem’ that can never be 100% solved, but that the best approach to get as close as possible is to trick the brain. Go Touch VR is aiming to provide a minimum viable way to trick the brain starting with simulating user interactions like button presses.
I had a chance to catch up with Vezzoli at CES where we talked about the future challenges of haptics in VR including the 400-800 Hz frequency response of fingers, the mechanical limits of nanometer-accuracy of skin displacement, the ergonomic limitations of haptic suits, and the possibility of fusing touch and vibrational feedback with force feedback haptic exoskeletons.