Current-generation VR controllers are fairly limited in enabling users to “feel” virtual objects; bow strings vibrate with haptic shivers, while guns kick back as they fire bullets.

Now researchers at Russia’s Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology are proposing a big step forward called TouchVR — a wearable accessory that applies direct force on the palm and vibrotactile feedback to the fingers, enabling users to feel the weight, texture, softness, and slippage of VR objects.

Each TouchVR wearable looks like the foundation of an Iron Man glove: a circular DeltaTouch 3D force generator centered on the palm, plus vibration motors wired with Velcro pads to the thumb and fingers around it.

So equipped, the wearer can feel applied force and sliding motions in the palm, combined with vibrations that run from the palm to the fingertips to simulate object textures.

There’s no need to hold another controller, as hands are tracked with a Leap Motion hand sensor and HTC Vive Pro VR system.

The researchers are using several Unity-based VR apps to demonstrate TouchVR’s capabilities, including a virtual spider moving on the wearer’s palm, a bouncing soccer ball, and a pulsing dragon’s egg.

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