One of virtual reality’s largest unsolved challenges is allowing players to interact with a virtual environment beyond just video and audio. This is why a team of researchers from National Chengchi University in Taiwan came up with the FingerX project as a way to get haptic feedback when touching objects in a real and VR setting simultaneously.
Whereas other ideas revolve around constricting finger motion or using pins to generate rudimentary shapes, FingerX incorporates a single extender module that rests upon each fingertip and extends when certain conditions are met. When touching virtual objects that rest on a flat surface, the shape of the virtual object is intersected by the hand’s position and causes the extenders to mold around the form. Entirely virtual objects can also be held in the player’s hand using this same principle while also being able to fold away the extenders when grasping a physical object.
The device is equipped with a pair of Arduino Mega boards, which control a set of eight motors through four dual motor drivers. Positioning of the ring actuator is accomplished by reading its current rotation from the center with a rotary encoder connected to an interrupt pin. Power for everything comes from a 6V external supply.
Dive into the details of the project by reading the team’s paper here.