A lot of researchers and manufacturers are working on innovations for virtual reality. Virtual reality has been around for a long time but so far has seen limited adoption. A new device has turned up that will be shown off at the UIST 2021 ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology. The device is called X-Rings.
X-Rings is described as a hand-mounted 360 degrees shape display specifically designed for virtual reality. It’s able to render objects in 3D and respond to user touch and grasping force. Essentially, the device can replicate the shape seen in a virtual reality environment allowing the user to grasp an object.
X-Rings was built using a modular stack of readings driven by motors that can expand between 5.7 and 7.7 centimeters in diameter. The object is graspable by a user’s entire hand and is strapped to the palm. Since it’s strapped to the palm, the user doesn’t have to make contact with the device if they don’t want to.
X-Rings is fitted with capacitive sensors and motor current sensing capability, allowing it to estimate finger touch states and the gripping force of the user. By estimating gripping force, the device could offer multiple states depending on how hard it is squeezed. A demonstration of the device used software allowing users to grasp and interact with different objects inside of a virtual environment.
The video above shows the device in action. It appears to be made out of rigid plastic. It does seem that a device such as this could give users much more immersion into virtual reality games and environments. The video also shows it’s able to transition between shapes quickly.