Mechanical glove delivers physical cues about virtual objects

Mechanical glove delivers physical cues about virtual objects

Technology News |
By Rich Pell

A Research Engineer at CEA-LIST’s interactive simulation lab (LSI), Vincent Weistroffer exhibited a first demonstrator at Innorobo, freshly assembled less than two weeks ago as the end result of the MANDARIN project (MANipulation Dextre hAptique pour op√©Rations INdustrielles which could translate as haptic dexterous handling for industrial operations).

Backed by the French National Research Agency (ANR) with industrial partners including haptic interfaces provider Haption and car maker Renault, the MANDARIN project aims to deliver a virtual object manipulation interface for immersive environments, which industrials could use to intuitively explore complex structures or to train technicians with assembly or disassembly procedures.

With force-feedback implemented on all five fingers, the exoskeleton glove gives the wearer the sensation of manipulating real physical objects, exactly as they are displayed on screen or in a virtual environment. The glove could also be used to remotely control a slave robotic hand or manipulator.

“Next, we’ll implement hand position tracking using IR camera and reflective markers placed on the exoskeleton”, Weistroffer told eeNews Europe, showing round recesses in the 3D-printed plastic casing. “In the future, the hand could be mounted on a full haptic arm exoskeleton to implement stronger force-feedback, so you would not be able to force your way through a virtual object” the researcher added.

At the finger tips, a small actuator (either a vibration-motor or a piezo-electric module) can provide different surface texture sensations based on vibration amplitude and frequency.

At this stage, the bulky prototype is only a demonstrator, but Haption may want to integrate it further, optimizing its construction for industrialization.

CEA-LIST’s freshly assembled MANDARIN demonstrator.

“Renault is interested in this project to train its operators disassembling electric batteries”, explained Weistroffer, “using virtual environments, they could train several operators at once, and they wouldn’t have to re-assemble physical models before the next disassembly session, which consumes a lot of time”.

The technology could find other use cases such as health rehabilitation, technical education and in the long term, it may even trickle down into consumer applications such as video games for improved interactivity.

Visit CEA-LIST at

Visit Haption at

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