Microsoft Research has published research about a new haptic controller for virtual reality which would allow fine finger manipulation on virtual objects which are compliant and elastic (such as a rubber ball) while still using a simple to built and reliable rigid controller.
Called TORC (for TOuch Rigid Controller), the controller has no moving parts but using force sensors and voice coil actuators, plus appropriate visual feedback to deliver rich haptic feedback and high dexterity.
The TORC project team enabled natural haptic interactions, such as squeezing a virtual silicone ball, by translating multisensory integration theories to the world of hardware prototypes. TORC working fundamentals rely on the fact that humans are very susceptible to dynamic visuotactile stimulation. When provided in the right way the force applied by the user on our device will create equivalent wide-band Voice Coil Actuation (VCA). The real-time effect within virtual reality creates the necessary proprioceptive drifts that enable different compliances for virtual objects.
See the science demonstrated in Microsoft’s video below:
The simple design with no moving parts means it can be implemented in other devices with opposing fingers, such as styluses, game controllers or traditional VR controllers.
Microsoft presented the research at CHI 2019 in Glasgow this May. Read more about it at Microsoft Research here.