Researchers have developed the InfinityGlove, a gaming peripheral that allows users to mimic a variety of in-game controls using simple hand gestures.
Developed by a team at the National University of Singapore (NUS), the InfinityGlove is claimed to overcome existing problems of weight and flexibility with ultra-thin, highly sensitive microfibre sensors woven into the material of the glove. These sensors are lightweight, accurate and fulfil the role of wires, thereby reducing the need for additional wiring.
Currently, each InfinityGlove weighs about 40g and contains five thread-like sensors for each digit. This network of sensors can interface with the game software to produce accurate three-dimensional positions of a moving hand. Various gestures made by the user’s hands are then mapped to specific inputs that are found on a regular controller. To date, the team says it has mapped 11 inputs and commands that allow users to play games such as Battlefield V.
According to NUS, the application of this microfibre sensor technology is the breakthrough innovation that enables the InfinityGlove to accurately map finger gestures for human-machine interaction. The sensor is made up of a thin and stretchable rubber-like microfibre that is filled with a conductive liquid metal.
A small electric current runs through the liquid metal, creating an electrical signal that changes when the fibres are bent and as the liquid metal is displaced. This microfibre sensor was developed by the team in 2017 and was previously used to measure pulse and bandage pressure, but they have since adapted it for the smart glove by improving the strain sensing capabilities.
When linked up to the team’s proprietary software, the sensors can rapidly translate the gestures via electrical signals into command inputs at a speed that is almost the same as pressing a button on the keyboard.
The team took two years to develop a working prototype of the InfinityGlove and is also producing the microfibre sensors commercially for other applications.
Research leader Professor Lim Chwee Teck, Director of the NUS Institute for Health Innovation & Technology, said, “We were very much inspired by the need to remotely control tasks with just hand gestures.
“Current commercially available technology is not very responsive and causes a strain on the user’s hands after prolonged use due to their bulky setup. We envision that gesture-based control using our lightweight smart gloves can bring us one step closer to a truly immersive interface between humans and machines.”
The NUS team’s next steps include extending the glove’s capabilities into virtual reality, complex games and robotic control.