Smart gloves let long-dis­tance lovers touch

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - TIMES TRENDS -

Toronto: Long-dis­tance cou­ples may soon share a walk, watch movies to­gether and even give each other amas­sage, thanks to a tech­nol­ogy be­ing de­vel­oped by sci­en­tists.

Car­man Neustaedter from Si­mon Fraser Univer­sity in Canada and team have de­signed a pair of in­ter­con­nected gloves called Flex-NFeel. When fin­gers “flex” in one glove, ac­tions are trans­mit­ted to a re­mote part­ner wear­ing the other. The glove’s tac­tile sen­sors al­low the wearer to “feel” the move­ments.

To cap­ture the flex ac­tions, the sen­sors are at­tached to a mi­cro con­troller. The sen­sors pro­vide a value for each bend, and are trans­mit­ted to the “feel” glove us­ing a WiFi mod­ule. The sen­sors are also placed strate­gi­cally on palm side of the fin­gers so the touch can be felt bet­ter. A soft switch on both gloves also al­lows ei­ther part­ner to ini­ti­ate the touch.

“Users can make in­ti­mate ges­tures such as touch­ing the face, hold­ing hands and giv­ing a hug. The act of bend­ing or flex­ing one’s fin­ger is a gen­tle and sub­tle way to mimic touch,” said Neustaedter.

While one set of gloves en­abled one-way re­mote touch be­tween part­ners, Neustaedter said a sec­ond set could al­low both to share touches at the same time. In the works are other projects that fo­cus on shared ex­pe­ri­ences, in­clud­ing a vir­tual re­al­ity video con­fer­enc­ing sys­tem that lets one “see through the eyes” of a re­mote part­ner, and an­other that en­ables users to video stream a re­mote part­ner’s ac­tiv­i­ties to a long-dis­tance part­ner at home (called Be With Me).

The re­searchers are also study­ing how next-gen­er­a­tion telep­res­ence ro­bots can help unite cou­ples and par­tic­i­pate in ac­tiv­i­ties to­gether. They have em­bed­ded a ro­bot, de­signed by Suit­able Tech­nolo­gies, into sev­eral homes in Canada, which con­nects to coun­tries around the world.

“Long-dis­tance re­la­tion­ships are more com­mon to­day, but dis­tance don’t have to mean miss­ing out on hav­ing a phys­i­cal pres­ence and shar­ing space,” said Neustaedter. “If peo­ple can­not phys­i­cally be to­gether, we’re hop­ing to cre­ate the next best tech­no­log­i­cal solutions.”

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