Using this exoskeleton in a virtual environment, a baseball feels firm, and an egg light and fragile.

The Dexmo glove, with its gleaming white carapace and jet-black connecting joints, looks much like a prop stolen from a Stanley Kubrick film set. Worn on the hand, it gives its wearer a cartoonish silhouette, as if some kind of humorous cheat code had been applied to reality to grant humans oversized, clod-like paws.

In fact, Dexmo’s world-altering properties are focused in the virtual realm. Used alongside compatible virtual-reality software, the Dexmo exoskeleton allows its wearer to touch, grasp, and feel virtual objects as if they were real. A virtual baseball feels firm and weighty in the hand, an egg light and fragile. Pick up a digital rubber duck while wearing the Dexmo, and it can be squished pleasingly between the fingers.

The exoskeleton, designed by a team of seven young roboticists and engineers, uses five custom-built force-feedback units to apply torque to your fingers. These motors dynamically alter the direction and magnitude of the force in order to simulate a specific virtual object’s stiffness. In this way they provide light resistance when handling a soft object like a sponge or a piece of cake, and heavy resistance for a denser object, like a pipe or a brick. Tiny motors also provide haptic vibrations to your fingertips that simulate the impact of tapping a keyboard, or running your finger along a piece of rough concrete. The glove’s resistance is so powerful that it will physically prevent your fingers from penetrating through objects in VR. Read More