Facebook Reality Labs haptic gloves: details, specifications, release date


Long before Facebook Formally renamed itself Meta—a signal to the world that it is paying more and more attention to virtual and augmented reality technologies—the company has begun to reveal the key parts of the Metaverse it envisioned.

Its Meta Quest 2 (formerly known as Oculus Quest 2) has been considered one of the best wireless VR headsets. Recently, executives from Meta Reality Labs, the company’s R&D department, demonstrated a wrist wearable device that converts electric motor nerve signals into digital commands, and the upcoming “Project Cambria” headset, which should support lifelike Avatar and advanced eye tracking.

Now, the controversial social media company—because it is still a social media company and still controversial—is revealing another of these future VR prototypes. This time it is a tactile glove designed to provide the wearer with a sensation that mimics the weight and sensation of a real object when processed in a virtual space. Wearing this pair of gloves, even if the object is completely digital, you can be sure that you are holding the real thing (or something close to it).

Sean Keller of Reality Labs wears prototype tactile gloves.Photo: Facebook Reality Lab

The chief scientist of Meta Reality Labs Michael Abrash and the laboratory’s research science director Sean Keller said that this tactile glove has been developed for several years, but it is still far from being released to the public. But it is another part of Meta’s AR/VR big picture, where vision, sound and touch are fused together to make the enhanced digital world more realistic.

“What we are trying to do is figure out how to provide you with rich feedback so that your hands are fully functional,” Abrash said. “This is a critical part, and one of the hardest, longest and most risky parts, but once in place, VR can truly become an environment in which you can effectively do almost anything.”

Full hand

The problem Meta is trying to solve is a real problem in VR, and other companies have tried to solve this problem. Put on a VR headset and you will be cut off from the real world. Wear a VR headset with inside-out tracking—this term is most commonly used to describe sensors and cameras that capture your surroundings—and moving in VR becomes easier to manage.

But when you try to pick up the virtual object with your physical hand, the whole flirtation with VR fails again. Suddenly feel very confused. The controller, like the controller that comes with Quest 2, is a good hand agent, allowing you to navigate menus or play games at least while wearing a mature headset. However, these are mostly input devices and will not give you the kind of tactile feedback you get with your actual hands.

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