Virtual Reality gets physical with Hands Omni

Prototype glove brings the virtual world to your fingertips

Oculus wants to fool your eyes and ears using its immersion headset, but now a team of engineering students from Rice University is hoping to fool your fingertips as well.

The group of senior year engineers is developing a VR supplement called Hands Omni, a smart glove which simulates the sensation of touching objects in a virtual environment.

Whenever an object is pressed or gripped, Hands Omni applies force feedback to the user's hand. Pressure is engaged using a series of air-inflatable bladders across the glove's surface which swell and apply force in the appropriate place.

[Rice University]

In order to maintain the illusion of uncovered hands, the Onmi is impressively light, weighing in at 350 grams. The glove is also wireless to prevent resistance and weight from cables.

“We wanted as much mass as far back on the hand as possible, and that’s exactly what we’re doing,” said engineering student Marissa Garcia. “The user will hardly know it’s there.”

According to the team, programmers should find the tool simple to integrate with their virtual environments; we presume they're developing an API similar to that of other VR hardware.

The first commercially available virtual reality headset will be the Valve and HTC's combined offering, the Vive, which is scheduled for release in November of this year.