The Phantom VR glove leaves the fingers free and enables haptic feedback during hand tracking.
Afference, a VR startup based in Colorado, has developed a unique haptic glove called the “Phantom”. Unlike traditional VR gloves that cover the user’s entire hand, the Phantom leaves the user’s fingers uncovered. This would enable haptic feedback for hand-tracking applications on headsets like Quest 3 or Apple Vision Pro.
The Phantom glove features a device with an electronics module and battery which is strapped around the wrist. This device also connects to five adjustable rings, one for each finger base. It connects wirelessly via Bluetooth to VR headsets.
The rings stimulate the nerves that connect the fingertips to the brain. Through these stimuli, the glove tricks the brain into thinking it is actually touching something. You can see examples in the following video from minute 00:46.
Haptic gloves are a familiar concept in the VR industry. Tokyo-based startup, Diver-X for example, has launched a haptic glove called “ContactGlove” which offers tactile feedback when gripping objects in VR.
Its “Micro Coils” technology allows finger elements to contract or expand, simulating the sensation of touching real objects. The glove can also emulate button, trigger, and stick inputs of traditional controllers.
With the Gloves G1, HaptX has unveiled a new model of haptic gloves last year, offering improved comfort, mobile use, and more realistic haptic feedback. The company has been developing these complex haptic gloves for over a decade, but primarily for corporate use.
However, none of these models can do without exposed palms and fingers. The Phantom Glove would be one of the first models to provide tactile stimuli and feedback for hand tracking, and would thus solve one of the biggest problems of the technology.