While Meta’s gloves are still in the prototype stage, some Indian firms are already selling haptic gloves with similar technologies.

Haptic gloves allow users to touch and feel in VR

NEW DELHI : Last November, Meta’s (formerly Facebook) Reality Labs unveiled a pair of haptic gloves that can help a computer program accurately understand and display a wearer’s hand gestures. The gloves can also simulate complex sensations such as pressure, texture and vibration.

The idea behind the gloves was to make virtual objects feel real in the wearer’s hands and to add touch to virtual reality (VR) simulations. Meta’s gloves, which are in the prototype stage, use sensors to read signals that the human brain sends to our hands via neurons, and relay the same to a computer.

But while Meta’s gloves are still in the prototype stage, Indian companies such as AjnaLens and Simulanis are already selling haptic gloves with similar technologies to customers.

According to industry executives, major companies that use VR to train employees to handle complicated equipment in mining, manufacturing and automotive industries have started using such gloves or are planning to use such gloves to enhance the learning experience. .

For example, Hindustan Zinc Ltd (HZL), a unit of Vedanta Ltd, started using haptic gloves called AjnaSparsh developed by Mumbai-based VR company AjnaLens to simulate mining rigs and prepare miners for them.

Abhishek Tomar, co-founder and chief technology officer at AjnaLens, explained that Vedanta uses large machines called mining rigs in its mines. These rigs have 12 types of gears and levers and drivers need to be properly trained to use them accurately.

Adding the gloves makes the experience “phygital” rather than a purely digital experience. Interns can now push, pull or twist levers in the virtual world, creating muscle memory in the process.

“The fact that they learn to deal with real challenges in the digital space makes the training both safe and cost-effective,” a Vedanta spokesperson said in a statement.

Vedanta is not alone in looking at such experiences. Tomar said Tata Motors will also use haptic gloves for driving and other simulators.

Noida-based VR, AR startup Simulanis is supplying exoskeleton VR gloves called Reflexis to companies like HPCL and Mahindra. Developed last year, Simulanis gloves are used by the two companies for training, operations, repair and maintenance in refineries, pipelines, retail and operations distribution engineering. “The gloves have generated a lot of interest from many of our existing customers, especially those from the manufacturing sector, such as the automotive, oil and gas, pharmaceuticals and FMCG,” said Raman Talwar, CEO and Founding Director of Simulanis. The health care and skills sector is also producing some demand, he said.

Talwar said such gloves allow for motion tracking of the user’s entire hand and how it moves, including the fingers. The haptic feedback, in turn, provides the user with a more “realistic and engaging” experience, he said.

In addition to businesses, educational institutions are expected to use such gloves for training and proficiency.

Tomar of AjnaLens said the company plans to make its gloves available to technical institutes. He estimated that about 50,000 students from various technical institutes in India will receive the gloves this year.

The company has made its haptic gloves part of a full lineup of offerings under its AjnaXR Station. It includes a VR software platform, VR headset and gloves. Simulanis, on the other hand, offers its gloves as a standalone offering. They can be purchased for Rs. 75,000 to Rs.100,000 and used with VR platforms such as HTC’s Vive, Meta’s Oculus headsets and Microsoft’s Windows.

Tomar said the adoption of haptic gloves is just the beginning and will lead to the demand and development of more such accessories. “Gloves only give feedback for the hand. When people realize the potential of the technology and want more immersive VR experiences, more accessories come into the picture,” he added.

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