Interview with Serge Khurs, TESLASUIT Co-founder and CTO
At the end of 2019, TESLASUIT announced its newest addition – brand-new VR-gloves, known as the TESLASUIT GLOVE. The product prototype was showcased at CES2020 and created an intense buzz among the tech community, perked curiosity and generated numerous questions.
Serge Khurs, Head of TESLASUIT R&D, Co-founder, and CTO will tell all about the creation of the TESLASUIT Glove and how it will advance the XR industry.
— Serge, the reaction of the public and media has been quite positive. It seems as if they’ve been waiting for it for a long time. So, why did TESLASUIT decide to make a VR glove? Why now?
— We decided to make our GLOVE for a number of reasons:
The first was to provide a solution to many use cases, especially in XR training, when the use of hands is required. This can be useful in training employees to work with shut-off valves or other processes.
Secondly, in answer to the demand of the market. Attitudes toward training are constantly developing, and so is the search for innovative and effective instruments. We wanted to create something truly innovative that made huge leaps forward in the VR world.
And thirdly, as we consider our product to be an all-round interface between the human body and the virtual world, we decided to supplement our kit with an additional element to make the immersion into virtual reality all the more realistic. And that means that our users will truly feel the reality of the virtual world.
— What VR-gloves are being used for? What are the top spheres where the VR-glove could be applied?
— Like the original TESLASUIT, the GLOVE can be used across various sectors and industries. Here’s how we see its use at the moment, but remember, its range of applications is continuously developing:
- Enterprise training, especially where fine motor skills are required. The GLOVE detects the movements of the wearer’s hands and uses those to control the accuracy of movements and allows for the feeling of tactile sense in the virtual world. This is a necessity in Enterprise VR Training, particularly for cases that cover detailed techniques of human interaction with machines, mechanisms or aggregates.
- Medical rehabilitation, the gloves can potentially revolutionise rehabilitation to restore mobility. This may be particularly effective after a stroke, for example.
- Robotic tele-control systems, here the gloves allow the user to better operate the controlling robot manipulators and fine-tune their movements. This could make hazardous activities safer or improve quality in robotic-lead tasks.
— Is there any particular industry that the GLOVE is a must-have for?
— The GLOVE is a useful tool for almost any sphere. But, we believe it will find its true value in the mining, oil and gas, energy, and hazardous manufacturing industries, allowing users to utilise specific hand movements and train for such situations. It’ll also be helpful for government services (for example, fire and rescue services), the training of erection work techniques, and possibly even surgical techniques.
— It seems that design is one of TESLASUIT’s strong points. But, which other features make TESLASUIT GLOVE different from its competitors?
— The TESLASUIT GLOVE differs from its competitors in several key factors that affect its performance, capabilities, and look:
Good things come in small packages and our GLOVE is pretty compact. Forged in true Red Dot tradition, we were able to pack our innovative technology with both in style and functionality, meaning that it doesn’t just look good, it really works.
It’s compactness, also means one other thing – the GLOVE is exceptionally portable. It won’t leave its users weighed down and is easy to transport. To quote the numbers – one glove weighs 300 grams, just slightly more than Apple’s iPhone 11 Pro.
The GLOVE is specifically designed to help users further immerse themselves in the virtual world. It enhances the feelings that users experience, providing an increasingly realistic effect. Users can, for example, feel the vibration from a faulty valve, and even it’s texture. The GLOVE has the ability to transfer the feeling of a texture directly to your fingertips.
Now, the next thing that makes our GLOVE unique is its encoders that allow the driftless Mocap (motion capture system) to monitor the turn of the palm using the IMU sensor and the fingers using resistive bending sensors while removing drifts (errors) in the system. Original bend sensors may degrade quickly, however our system aims for perfection.
The GLOVE is also equipped with biometrics, so like the original suit, the GLOVE is able to monitor movements in detail, providing feedback for future improvements or even just keeping a note of your key stats.
But that’s not all. The final thing that sets us apart is something very simple – TESLASUIT now provides a FULL KIT for body and hands; there are no analogues on the markets today.
— And what are the use cases of the TESLASUIT FULL KIT?
— This is necessary for a number of use cases, especially when it is necessary to engage the whole body for deeper immersion.
The TESLASUIT VR glove integrates haptics, motion capture, biometry and force feedback. The GLOVE’s haptics, equipped with a 3×3 display on each finger, contributes to tactile sense, enabling users to feel virtual textures naturally.
— But why is the haptic only at the fingertips? Is this a technical limitation?
— In this first version release, we decided not to complicate the design and made displays only at our fingertips. For the time being, it’s more than enough to feel virtual textures as if they were real. But, that doesn’t mean we’ll stop there, future versions will also include palm displays.
— What size are each of the haptic displays on the fingers of the glove?
— The size of the haptic displays are 10×17 mm.
The GLOVE detects movements of the wearer’s hands and uses those to control the accuracy of movements. It’s the perfect feature to use if fine motor skills are required.
— So, how does motion capture work in the glove? Why is the TESLASUIT GLOVE’s motion capture considered to be more advanced than its counterparts?
— Our Mocap is built on encoders. These sensors are free from such drawbacks as the drift system (the constant accumulation of errors), and that’s what makes it unique in the glove market.
— Does Mocap have blind spots or areas that track slightly worse / slower than others?
— No, there are no blind spots or areas that track slightly worse than others. The Mocap allows the GLOVE to accurately track a person’s movements.
— What is the lower limit of finger vibrations for the Mocap to detect movement? For example, if playing the piano with these gloves, the fingers would contract within 1-2 cm, hovering in one area, these contractions would be very quick and short. Would the Mocap be able to record such activity?
— Yes, the Mocap would record this activity. Our Mocap is built on absolute encoders with an accuracy of 0.05 degrees; by the way, this is exceptionally accurate. This system is devoid of drifts, such as in IMU systems.
— What about the 6DoF tracking of the GLOVES? Do you need external trackers, such as Vive Tracker, for SteamVR Tracking or how does it work? In this, I refer to the tracking position of the hand, because as the image indicates, you can retrieve the position of the fingers and wrist, but not the absolute position of the hand.
— The gloves are equipped with 6DoF tracking. When using the gloves WITH the suit, you won’t need any trackers to retrieve the absolute position of the hand. When using the gloves SEPARATELY, there will be special false timbering for HTC Vive tracker or Oculus Quest controllers.
— The TESLASUIT GLOVE has a finely honed exoskeleton element which helps to feel resistance in virtual reality. Which motors will be used in the glove and by how much can pressure be increased in the glove when squeezing the wrist?
— The GLOVE uses servomotors, allowing for accurate control of position, acceleration and velocity of the GLOVE. In terms of pressure, the GLOVE is able to deliver up to 15 Newtons to the fingertips.
— Will the speed of compression and unclenching of the hand be limited in the glove? Will there be any resistance? Will the user be able to move their wrist freely at a normal speed? And can this be regulated?
— There are 3 operating modes in the glove:
- Idle mode, also known as effortless mode, where the user can freely control their fingers.
- Force mode, a mode in which you can set a resistance to finger movement.
- Finger control mode, a mode in which you can set the coordinate on which the finger should move.
This means a user can decide on the level of resistance that is used and regulate it when using the GLOVE.
— The TESLASUIT GLOVE has an integrated biometric system that gathers real-time data while in use – allowing for emotional state, stress level, and heart rate to be relayed. What are these indicators necessary for?
— Biometric sensors can read stress levels. These indicators are very important when training a person as they can help professionals decide on the intensity of activities, for example, or even let an employer understand how well an employee is handling a stressful task, for instance, can they take the correct actions to avoid a hazardous situation turning critical.
— The glove is illuminated. Is it connected somehow with biometry? For example, does the colour change depending on the situation: stress, fail, etc.?
— Glove illumination utilises RGB LEDs to indicate the various statuses of the glove – connection to WiFi, device pairing, errors, battery charge, etc. The users can also customise the backlight to suit their needs. In addition, the GLOVE can also use biometry and lighting to indicate stress levels.
— What is the working temperature range of the glove? Can the parts start to melt? Or does it work worse in low temperatures?
— The temperature range of the gloves is between – 20 and +70, meaning it functions effectively at almost any temperature.
— Is the glove powered by an internal battery? If so, what is its capacity, and how long does it last?
— The glove is powered by built-in batteries, these have a battery life of around 4-5 hours.
— What will the IP (Ingress Protection) be?
— IP will include moisture prevention and the dust-proof is IP64.
— How should the glove be cared for? Can it be washed? What about sweat?
— The glove is designed so that the fabric base is completely detachable and washable, making it easy to clean and care for.
— What sizes of gloves will be available in?
— The exoskeleton will have 2 size ranges. As for the textile base and tips, there will be 3 unisex sizes – S, M, and L.
— What other changes will be in the MVP?
— The redesigned glove construction will increase user UX, for example, becoming easier to put on and remove the gloves, increasing the speed of putting on and removal, and performance. We’ll also see some electronics modifications, so watch this space to find out what they will be.
— What is required for a user to start using the glove and what does the SDK include?
— Before using the GLOVE, the user will need to acquire the GLOVE and develop, with us or using our SDK (software development kit) software that will allow them to experience the virtual world.
— Our SDK includes a complete set of methods for working with all the glove’s systems for the following platforms: Native (Linux, Win, Mac), Unity3d, and Unreal engine. Meaning that those using the SDK can create with fewer limitations.
— What’s the price for the GLOVE?
— The TESLASUIT GLOVE will cost approximately $5,000 (USD).
— When the TESLASUIT GLOVE hit the market?
— TESLASUIT GLOVE will hit the market in the 2nd half 2020, so get ready!
— Thank you, Serge. We’re really looking forward to trying the TESLASUIT GLOVE in action! We’re sure it’ll be an experience worth talking about.