In recent times it seems researchers from Cornell University have created something truly mind-blowing. While right now, VR isn’t as advanced as we would like for it to be, this device could change that in a lot of ways. 

Basically what these researchers have managed to create is a glove that has fiber-optic sensors in it. these sensors allow the wearer to feel the things that are going on in the virtual world. While it still has a long way to go, this device in itself could become quite well known and even needed as VR becomes more and more popular and advanced. Wouldn’t it be great to feel like you’re actually touching the things you’re seeing in your game?

Cornell University wrote as follows on this topic:

Cornell researchers have created a fiber-optic sensor that combines low-cost LEDs and dyes, resulting in a stretchable “skin” that detects deformations such as pressure, bending and strain. This sensor could give soft robotic systems – and anyone using augmented reality technology – the ability to feel the same rich, tactile sensations that mammals depend on to navigate the natural world.

The researchers, led by Rob Shepherd, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering in the College of Engineering, are working to commercialize the technology for physical therapy and sports medicine.

Their paper, “Stretchable Distributed Fiber-Optic Sensors,” published Nov. 13 in Science. The paper’s co-lead authors are doctoral student Hedan Bai ’16 and Shuo Li, Ph.D. ’20.

The project builds upon an earlier stretchable sensor, created in Shepherd’s Organic Robotics Lab in 2016, in which light was sent through an optical waveguide, and a photodiode detected changes in the beam’s intensity to determine when the material was deformed. The lab has since developed a variety of similar sensory materials, such as optical lace and foams.

For the new project, Bai drew inspiration from silica-based distributed fiber-optic sensors, which detect minor wavelength shifts as a way to identify multiple properties, such as changes in humidity, temperature and strain. However, silica fibers aren’t compatible with soft and stretchable electronics. Intelligent soft systems also present their own structural challenges.

“We know that soft matters can be deformed in a very complicated, combinational way, and there are a lot of deformations happening at the same time,” Bai said. “We wanted a sensor that could decouple these.”

Bai’s solution was to make a stretchable lightguide for multimodal sensing (SLIMS). This long tube contains a pair of polyurethane elastomeric cores. One core is transparent; the other is filled with absorbing dyes at multiple locations and connects to an LED. Each core is coupled with a red-green-blue sensor chip to register geometric changes in the optical path of light.

The dual-core design increases the number of outputs by which the sensor can detect a range of deformations – pressure, bending or elongation – by lighting up the dyes, which act as spatial encoders. Bai paired that technology with a mathematical model that can decouple, or separate, the different deformations and pinpoint their exact locations and magnitudes.

This in itself is quite appealing to look at as you can see below and while simple in some ways is also pretty complex when you think about all the things that go into making something of this nature work. The more advanced things in the virtual worlds become the more we will need things like this to help immerse us more deeply. gloves like this one and other things of the sort are going to be crucial to VR moving forward.

Sure, this is one step towards something huge but that one step is quite important. What do you think about this glove? I for one cannot wait to see where the technology behind it goes.

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