Development of a Haptic Glove for Virtual Reality using Fiber-Reinforced Actuators

Ricardo Martinez

Fiber-Reinforced Actuator Fabrication.

Fiber-reinforced actuator fabrication.

Undergraduate Student Project

Introduction

Haptics describes the sense of touch and is what enables us to analyze our surroundings and manipulate it. Differentiating objects is made possible by how the object is perceived through our sense of touch. Every object one interacts with is determine by a stimulus which excites our senses and is derived by the specific properties of that object. Understanding the haptic interactions of everyday objects can be modeled in a virtual landscape through the use of a force-feedback glove. Providing the appropriate forces on the user's hand when manipulating a virtual object, is the first step to emulating the real object in virtual reality. A force- feedback glove needs to provide sustained forces to multiple fingers, be lightweight, safe for the user to wear, and preserve the user's natural freedom as much as possible. However, current force-feedback gloves are typically made of rigid actuators which are large and heavy. This increases user fatigue and hinders upper-limb movement which lowers the quality of immersion. Therefore, to improve the immersion of virtual reality and accommodate the freedom of motion of the user, the weight of the force-feedback glove must be reduced and  provide the necessary forces to emulate the object.

Abstract

Virtual reality gloves are typically made of rigid materials which are large and heavy. This increases user fatigue and hinders upper-limb movement. Implementing a soft actuator consisting of an elastomer bladder reinforced with a strain-limiting layer and inextensible fibers mitigates these issues. Force feedback is achieved by controlling pressure in the bladder, and by strategically arranging the fiber reinforcement to constrain actuator motion. In this work, we measure the force applied by the soft actuator to the tip of the index finger as a function of inflation pressure, fiber architecture, and finger curl.

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