3D printed prosthesis company Exiii is combining the use of prosthetic limbs with virtual reality (VR) and haptic feedback. The project creates a device that makes the virtual reality experience even more immersive. The device has been called Exos by the Japanese company and aims to stimulate the feeling of touch in VR.
This device has particular application as a 3D designing tool and this an area we’ve seen more of recently. For example Oculus Medium was used by Facebook to create a 3D printed model of Mark Zuckerburg’s dog. Yet their Touch Controllers do little to stimulate feelings of physical contact.
Haptic feedback can be beneficial for designing for 3D printing as illustrated by 3D Systems who have explored this with their Touch 3D Stylus. The stylus is used at 3D Systems’ healthcare facility to clean up 3D models of medical scans. 3D Printing Industry took at look at designing through use of haptic feedback here.
The Exos device
If you’ve ever used a virtual reality headset, you’ll be familiar with the immersive nature of the experience. However, that experience is interrupted by the inability to touch virtual objects. While sound and sight can be convincingly reproduced by the technology, the sense of touch is something that has not been addressed.
The exoskeleton gloves may be slightly intrusive, particularly in addition to the already cumbersome headset required. Not forgetting the number of wires that currently chain the user in the demonstration video. The technology does seem to have addressed the desire to have physical interaction when using a VR device. This could be useful for design, at a much later point in time. We can see how enabling the user to have a feel for the object they are designing, just as one would use the sensation of touch as a guide in the real world while sculpting for example, may be appealing.
Gif shows the Exos being used to stimulate touch. Images via Exiii.
How it works
EXOS uses its internal motor to send a reactive force to the user’s finger, giving them the sensation of touching an object in real life. This technology can help to expand the functionality available in the VR world.
With the advance of virtual reality, both in popularity and the technology itself the creation of this device may push this even further and there is clearly application for 3D designing software.
See it to believe it
While the device looks promising, in order to fully test its potential for 3D design we’d have to give it a test ourselves.
The gloves don’t appear to be directed at those who use prosthetic limbs. Since it looks like the device requires use of the fingers to function the haptic feedback. However, if the company was able to provide amputees with the sensation of touch that would be truly impressive. With a background for creating 3D printed prosthesis for amputees, this may be an intention for the future.
Featured image shows the Exos prosthesis device. Image via Exiii.