VR Glove Startup Says Recently Unveiled Meta Prototype Is “Substantially Identical” To Its Own Device

Facebook, errr Meta, presented a new prototype haptic-feedback glove yesterday, which they believe could potentially bring a new generation of AR / VR users closer than ever to digital content. Today, a virtual reality startup with the same mission called HaptX (which we’ve already touched on here) released a fairly aggressive statement accusing Meta of presenting a prototype “essentially identical” to its own patented technology.

The statement from HaptX CEO Jake Rubin further clarified that his startup had presented its technology over the years to “many engineers, researchers and executives at Meta”, and that they had not been consulted by the company on this latest project. “While we haven’t heard from Meta yet, we look forward to working with them to reach a fair and equitable agreement that addresses our concerns and allows them to incorporate our innovative technology into their future consumer products.” , Rubin notes.

Image credits: HaptX

A spokesperson for Meta declined to comment.

HaptX and the recently unveiled Meta prototype use a technology called microfluidic feedback. While your phone or game controller has haptic feedback that uses small motors to simulate a buzz or growl, when it comes to simulating deeper sensations all over a user’s hand, microfludic feedback behaves differently with the help of actuators that control the flow of air through an array of tubes in a way that can sophisticatedly mimic the sensations associated with gripping objects or even experience unique textures that are all rendered digitally.

Facebook has also showcased a number of AR / VR prototypes over the years, showcasing complex technologies that often don’t end up in end products, but test the edge of a certain technology. HaptX has been making haptic feedback gloves for corporate customers for years, miniaturizing technology that required a backpack-sized pneumatic housing that helps manage the sensory feedback from the gloves. It’s still a very complicated technology that’s probably several years of development before it reaches the same mainstream audience that Facebook, now Meta, is pursuing with the Quest 2.

It’s clear that the Meta team has made substantial advancements in the technology as well. In their research blog post, Meta explained that they had created “the world’s first high-speed microfluidic processor,” a chipset in the glove that controls these feedback controls. One of the company’s researchers explained that its “goal is to invent soft, lightweight haptic gloves that address both sides of the AR / VR interaction problem – helping the computer to understand and reflect with it. precision the movements of the wearer’s hand, and to reproduce 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 lot of criticism over the years from startups claiming their products have been unfairly copied by the big tech giant. They have also come under scrutiny from regulators who say they have engaged in anti-competitive behavior.

Here’s Rubin’s full statement from HaptX:

Over the past decade, HaptX has been a pioneer in the field of microfluidic haptic feedback. Our award-winning technology has received extensive coverage in the popular and tech press, and we have worked tirelessly to develop and promote the unique benefits of microfluidics as an approach to high fidelity haptic feedback. Thanks to the long-standing dedication of our engineers, developers and investors, we have also obtained a portfolio of cutting-edge patents to protect our technology and our products.

When interacting with other companies in the virtual reality industry, we have always believed that cooperation is paramount for the development of the industry as a whole. Over the years, we have hosted many engineers, researchers and executives from Meta to demonstrate our revolutionary haptic technology.

Today, Meta announced its own prototype microfluidic haptic feedback glove. The basic components of this prototype, including the silicone-based microfluidic tactile feedback laminate and pneumatic drive architecture, appear to be essentially identical to HaptX’s patented technology. We welcome interest and competition in the field of microfluidics haptics; however, competition must be fair for the industry to thrive.

While we haven’t heard from Meta yet, we look forward to working with them to come to a fair and equitable deal that addresses our concerns and allows them to incorporate our innovative technology into their future consumer products.

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