‘Feel The Unreal’: These VR/AR gloves allow you to safely touch dangerous objects

Maestro EP enables wearers to simulate the needed skills tangibly without costly physical limitations.
Loukia Papadopoulos
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Maestro EP

Contact CI  

Virtual reality (VR) and artificial reality (AR) company Contact CI introduced its latest gloves, the Maestro EP, at this year’s Electronics Consumer Show (CES) 2023.

The device is meant to allow wearers to "Feel The Unreal" within the grasp of their own hands, according to a press release by the company published on Wednesday.

Maestro EP is a VR/AR haptic wearable and software development kit primarily built for simulation training VR applications.

When an organization is training its people for crucial hands-centric skills in spatial computing, Maestro EP upgrades their learning to a hands-on experience that they can compellingly feel. 

It is ideally built for situations when hands-on training is too expensive, time-consuming, or dangerous. In those cases, Maestro EP enables wearers to simulate the needed skills tangibly without costly physical limitations.

Sensing touch

"Maestro EP is a lightweight and nuanced haptic interface that leverages years of iterative developments by the Contact CI team," Craig Douglass, CEO, and co-founder of Contact CI said in a press statement.

"As a new product in our signature Maestro line, Maestro EP highlights our approach of building Multi-Force Ergonomic Haptics enabling VR to be convincingly felt by a user's fingers."

‘Feel The Unreal’: These VR/AR gloves allow you to safely touch dangerous objects
Maestro EP

The device is the first product to be released by Contact CI following its recognition as a finalist in the VR Hardware of the Year and Enterprise Solution of the Year categories at the VR Awards in 2022.

The company previously partnered with the United States Air Force, with the USAF Simulator Chief Innovation Officer praising the quality of Contact CI’s haptic interactions.

USAF CIO Margaret Merkel said: "Contact CI has done an excellent job of blending force feedback and vibrotactile feedback, they have been able to create complex tangible interactions like switchology tasks inside VR cockpits while using a wireless lightweight wearable glove. Contact CI has convincingly simulated the sense of touch for VR and AR."

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Targeted at enterprises, Maestro EP is priced at $3,750 per pair and is available for pre-order, with shipping set to begin in 2023.

The technology has been years in the making. In 2016, a company surfaced a pair of gloves that could feel what is deep inside the water.

Sensing water

The gloves, called IrukaTact, worked by using a MaxBotix MB7066 sonar sensor that provides short or long-detection by using ultrasound. Three small motors were attached to the index, middle, and ring fingers, and the whole circuit was run by an Arduino Pro Mini. 

The information from the ultrasonic sensors were fed into the Arduino Pro Mini which then used this data to run the three motors accordingly. The motors then pumped water from the environment and directed it to the corresponding fingertips of the user.

This generated a kind of pressure feeling in the hand of the user and depending on how close or how far the object was from the user's hand, the amount of pressure generated was regulated by the Arduino in accordance with the information provided by the ultrasonic sensors.

Gloves such as this can find many applications. They can be used in situations where actually touching something is impossible or dangerous.