Our hands are rich forms of gestural expression, but capturing these expressions without hindering the hand itself is no easy task–even in today’s world of virtual reality hardware. Fret not, though, as researchers at the Interactive Geometry Lab have recently developed a glove that’s both comfortable and straightforward to fabricate while capturing not simply gestures but entire hand poses.
Like many hand-recognition gloves, this “stretch-sensing soft glove” mounts the sensors directly into the glove such that movements can be captured while hands are out of plain sight. However, unlike other gloves, sensors are custom-made from two stretchable conductive layers sandwiched between a plain layer of silicone. The result is a grid of 44 capacitive stretch sensors. The team feeds this datastream into a neural network for gesture processing, and the result is a system capable of reconstructing hand poses at 60Hz refresh rates.
In their paper [PDF], the research team details a process of making the glove with a conventional CO2 laser cutter. They first cast a conductive silicone layer onto a conventional sheet of silicone. Then, with two samples, they selectively etch away the conductive layer with the unique capacitive grid images. Finally, they sandwich these layers together with an additional insulating and glue it into a hand-shaped textile pattern. The resulting process is a classy use of the laser cutter for the design of flexible capacitive circuits without any further specialized hardware processes.
While we’re no stranger to retrofitting gloves with sensors or etching unconventional materials, the fidelity of this research project is in a class of its own. We can’t wait to see folks extend this technique into other wearable stretch sensors. For a deeper dive into the glove’s capabilities, have a look at the video after the break.