Facebook or, more accurately, Meta has shown off an innovative haptic feedback prototype glove on Tuesday that they claimed that it could bring a whole new generation of VR/AR users closer than ever in the past to content on digital devices. Today an VR company with the same goal, named HaptX (which we’ve discussed here previously) issued a rather savage statement, accusing Meta of showing an unproven prototype that is “substantively identical” to their own technology that they have patented.
According to the statement of HaptX Chief Executive Officer Jake Rubin further detailed that the company has demonstrated their technology over time in front of “many engineers, researchers, and executives from Meta,” and they were not asked to consult with HaptX on the new project. “While we have not yet heard from Meta, we look forward to working with them to reach a fair and equitable arrangement that addresses our concerns and enables them to incorporate our innovative technology into their future consumer products,” Rubin says.
A spokesperson from Meta was unable to comment.
Both HaptX and the newly unveiled Meta prototype utilize a technology known as microfluidic feedback. While your smartphone and game controller has haptic feedback , which uses tiny motors that simulate the sound of rumbling or buzzing however, when it comes to creating deeper feelings throughout the entire body, these feedbacks operates differently with actuators that control the flow of air through a series of tubes in a manner that mimics the sensations that come from picking up objects or feeling distinct tactile sensations that are all created digitally.
Facebook has also presented several AR/VR-related prototypes throughout the years showing complex technologies that usually don’t make it to their way to final products , but instead try to demonstrate the most cutting-edge of the technology. HaptX has been developing haptic-feedback gloves for clients in enterprise for a number of years, reducing the size of the technology that requires an air-tight backpack that manages the sensory feedback provided by the gloves. It’s a complicated technology that’s probably many years far from reaching the mass market that Facebook and, more recently, Meta is pursuing through Quest 2. Quest 2.
It’s evident that the Meta team also has contributed significant advancements to the technology. In their blog post about their research, Meta detailed that they have developed “the world’s first high-speed microfluidic processor,” an embedded chip inside the glove that regulates the feedback control. One of the researchers from Meta stated that his “goal is to invent soft, lightweight haptic gloves that address both sides of the AR/VR interaction problem — helping the computer to accurately understand and reflect the wearer’s hand movements, and reproducing a range of complex, nuanced sensations for the wearer such as pressure, texture, and vibration to create the effect of feeling a virtual object with your hands.”
Facebook has received a fair amount of criticism throughout the years from entrepreneurs who claim that their products were copied unfairly by the big tech giant. The company has also come under significant criticism from regulators who claim they’ve engaged in anti-competitive conduct.
Here’s the full statement of HaptX’s Rubin:
In the past year, HaptX has pioneered the field of microfluidic feedback haptic. Our technological innovation has been reported in the popular and tech media, and we’ve been working for years to promote and develop the advantages of microfluidics as a solution to high-quality feedback through haptics. Through the years of commitment of our engineers, investors and developers we’ve acquired a world-class patent portfolio that protects our products and technology.
When we interact with other companies within the VR sector, we have always believed that collaboration is crucial to the advancement of the entire industry. In the past we’ve hosted numerous researchers, engineers and managers from Meta to showcase our revolutionary technology for haptics.
The news came out today. Meta has unveiled their prototype for a microfluidic feedback glove. The key components of this prototype, such as the silicone-based microfluidic tactile feedback lamination and the pneumatic control system are essentially identical to HaptX’s patent-pending technology. We are pleased to see interest and competition in the microfluidic haptics field However, the competition must be fair in order for the industry to flourish.
Although we haven’t yet received a response from Meta We look at working together to come to an equitable and fair arrangement which addresses our concerns and allows them to integrate our cutting-edge technology into futuristic consumer goods.