A Light Touch

A series of experiments with virtual reality and haptic feedback

June - August 2015

Testing the control of a single motor using Unity

Design of circuit for one of the twelve motors on the gloves

Completed Lilypad circuit board mounted on a glove 

Haptic glove with partially-completed conductive thread stitching 

Some of the tech used in this project: Arduino and LEAP Motion

Testing functionality of gloves with Oculus Rift

Another player interacting with the tech demo

A view of what the user sees during the tech demo

A player interacting with the demo

The massive size of the creatures reinforces the scale of the player in relation to the undersea world

Completed hardware: haptic gloves and Oculus

A environment on the sea floor in which players explore and interact with the creatures that live in the darkness

Underwater volcano environment concept

The fish emerging out of the darkness helped to illustrate the vast, unseen depths of the pool

Early environment and animation test with an enormous fish in a bottomless underground cave

Building the Gloves

  • First step of the project: design the circuits, construct the gloves, wire them to the control system
  • System controlled by an Arduino Mega 
  • Six small vibration motors for each hand: one for each finger and one at the base of the palm
  • Motors connected to Lilypad wearable circuit board by conductive thread sewn into the gloves

Early proposal for hardware and interaction design

The Concept

  • The completed tech demo allowed users to see their hands in a virtual environment and then, when they reached out to the translucent cubes in front of them, to feel sensation as their hands passed through the cubes 
  • All hardware components connected by Unity game engine
  • Uniduino plugin for Unity controlled when and how much each motor on the gloves vibrated
  • LEAP Motion and its accompanying core Unity assets tracked the user's hand movements and projected hand models into the game environment
  • Oculus Rift and its Unity assets displayed the environment in virtual reality

Hardware + Software

Visual Development

  • Emphasis on translucent, ephemeral world-building so that a player's hands going through an object would feel natural in the context of the world
  • Several visual iterations were developed in parallel with the hardware
  • Integration with the hardware systems was partially successful but also difficult due to the high performance demands of the hardware
  • A series of experiments with virtual reality and haptic feedback

  • Two main components:

    • A custom-built pair of gloves that deliver a faint to strong vibration to the player when they touch something in virtual reality

    • A ghostly, ephemeral game environment that is enhanced by delicate tactile feedback provided by haptics

  • Collaboration with Dillon Lareau (electrical engineer)