Mechanical exoskeleton technology is a field which has been massively expanding in recent years. These devices help a wearer interact with an object in the physical world, and greatly improve their strength and maneuverability. However now, a new kind of exoskeleton is being developed to not aid with interaction in the physical world, but rather in the digital world.
Chinese company Dexta Robotics has created a new exoskeleton which fits over the hand allowing a user to interact with objects in the digital world like never before. Built from simple plastic parts combined with the latest in robotic technology, the exoskeleton maps the movements of a user’s hand and translates this into a 3D digital environment, either on a screen, or in a virtual reality environment.
As well as this, the exoskeleton glove has the unique capacity to deliver real time feedback to the user as they interact with a digital object. As their fingers or hand touch the object, the exoskeleton proves active resistance to the user’s movement, similar to the pressure which would exerted by a regular object. This resistance is provided by a series of state of the art disc braking mechanisms which are integrated into the body of the exoskeleton.
This kind of true haptic feedback is incredibly useful for a number of fields. Especially in virtual reality environments, it would allow for a user to more fluidly interact with their environment, allowing for a greater level of realism and immersion. Furthermore, for real world tasks, it would allow for a user to remotely control robotic devices with an unprecedented level of accuracy, allowing for fast completion of tasks like bomb disposal or experiments with hazardous substances.
Dexta has also taken care to make their product as cheap as possible, and hence available to the widest possible audience. In order to achieve this, they are using cheap, injection-moulded plastic components, and low-priced rotational movement sensors in the exoskeleton. Currently their Dexmo F2 device can be funded on Kickstarter, and pre ordered for just $159.