Meta — formerly Facebook — is trying to create what it describes as an embodied version of the internet, and it’s working hard on many individual pieces that are supposed to enable users to interact with it. Recently, a team at Reality Labs (RL) Research has unveiled a prototype of virtual reality haptic gloves capable of simulating complex sensations to provide their wearer with natural feedback when interacting with virtual objects.
The gloves use arrays of microfluidic actuators driven by the world’s first high-speed microfluidic processor to achieve millisecond response times while keeping power consumption minimal — something that’s extremely important for any wearable hardware device.
Once ready for release, the gloves could be used to support many virtual reality use cases. “The value of hands to solving the interaction problem in AR and VR is immense” explained RL Research Director Sean Keller. “We use our hands to communicate with others, to learn about the world, and to take action within it. We can take advantage of a lifetime of motor learning if we can bring full hand presence into AR and VR”.
Unfortunately, a lot of work still needs to be done for the technology to leave the research lab where it’s being developed. According to Keller, the team has made groundbreaking progress across multiple scientific and engineering disciplines, but the light at the end of the tunnel is only starting to become visible.
Meta isn’t the only company working on haptic gloves for virtual reality. There’s also HaptX, whose founder and CEO Jake Rubin has accused Meta of copying its patented designs. In an official statement, the company claims that Meta’s gloves appear to be substantially identical to HaptX’s patented technology.
“We welcome interest and competition in the field of microfluidic haptics; however, competition must be fair for the industry to thrive” said Rubin. Meta has yet to respond to the accusation, so stay tuned for updates.
Abu Dhabi’s Hub71 To Help Climate Technology Startups
The initiative was announced at the COP28 summit and will help selected startups with a $200,000 cash injection and further incentives.
Hub71, Abu Dhabi’s global technology system, has launched a new initiative to support climate technology startups backed by several of the UAE’s largest public and private sector organizations.
A total of 342 startups have submitted applications so far, with the top companies being added to a shortlist that will be revealed shortly. Selected startups will receive Dh250,000 ($68,000) in incentives and an upfront cash support package of Dh250,000. In addition, the top performers of Hub71’s new initiative will also receive a top-up of up to Dh250,000 in exchange for additional equity.
Ahmad Alwan, deputy chief executive of Hub71, said: “This initiative aims to bring in different entities that have a shared mission towards climate tech […] Throughout the journey, we will support these companies, not only from being startups to becoming mature companies but also to facilitate their engagement with entities that would support them with access to capital, market, and talent”.
The Hub71+ ClimateTech ecosystem is backed by the Abu Dhabi National Energy Company and the National Central Cooling Company, who have each pledged Dh500,000 to the initiative as anchor partners.
They are joined by corporate partners, including Abu Dhabi holding company ADQ, Aldar Properties, sovereign wealth fund Mubadala, First Abu Dhabi Bank, Masdar City, and Dubai’s Emirates NBD. In addition, Siemens Energy is also onboard as an anchor partner.
So far, Hub71 has helped 260 member startups and created over 1,000 jobs, according to the organization’s website. In addition, it has collectively raised around Dh5 billion since its foundation in 2019.