Microsoft Studies Haptic Controller that Simulates Momentum and Gravity

Microsoft’s research division is working on a new design of Virtual Reality that could make the...

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PIVOT not only enables grasping virtual objects, but dropping, throwing, and catching them, as well. Photo credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft’s research division is working on a new design of Virtual Reality that could make the haptics as realistic as having a motorized handle on your wrist.

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When you pick an apple from a tree, you experience various sensations: at first you feel the firmness of the apple, when you tug the apple you feel resistance, once you’ve plucked the apple you feel the weight of the apple on your palm and the smooth, round surface under your fingertips.

“In recent years, steady progress in haptic controllers from Microsoft Research has moved us toward a virtual reality (VR) experience in which those feelings will be on par with the awe-inspiring and realistic visual renderings being produced today by head-mounted displays. With previous devices such as NormalTouch, we can simulate a virtual object’s surface inclination and texture on the tip of an individual’s index finger,” reports Microsoft.

At the heart of the company’s new Haptic PIVOT controller is a motorized hinge and handle systems that sit on your wrist.

CLAW is a multifunctional handheld haptic controller for grasping, touching, and triggering in Virtual Reality. CLAW enables a person to feel they’ve grabbed an object between their fingers to explore its compliance and elasticity, and TORC allows a new level of dexterity, parallel to real life. TORC is a virtual reality controller for in-hand high-dexterity finger interaction. Using these prototypes, a person can feel the surface of a virtual apple, squeeze the virtual fruit, and move it around in their hands. However, to facilitate a complete interaction with that apple in its virtual surroundings, we also have to take into account the dynamics of the objects in the space. Now, with Haptic PIVOT, we bring the physics of forces to VR controllers. Worn on the wrist, PIVOT is a portable device with a haptic handle that moves in and out of the hand on demand.

Sam Draper
October 22, 2020

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