Reach Out & Grab Hold: Dexmo Exoskeleton Takes Virtual Reality to the Next Level

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images (5)Most of us have still have so many faraway places we’d like to see, sports and activities we’d like to try, not to mention a host of dreams that we, well, dream of fulfilling. That bucket list can get a nice nudge today though with a little help from our friends in technology. While we’ve seen virtual reality offering itself in some more serious applications, from the courtroom to industry and product development, it’s also a realm that’s been designated for fantasy—offering a way for us to visit other realms without even getting out the car keys or opening the front door.

While some may eschew gaming as non-productive, many others will just shake their heads sadly and say you’re missing out, dude. This is especially so today as speed and graphics are so advanced, and enhanced by some pretty incredible VR accessories. We can count on this getting better and better too, as companies like China’s Dexta Robotics are motivated to innovate, filling in the gaps for gamers, as well as those in numerous industries who are ready to take the next step with VR. While many of us have barely gotten used to what a headset like the Oculus Rift can do, now it looks like the ability to use our hands is coming into play as well.

images (17)Initially, the Dexmo Exoskeleton reminds me of some of the more advanced 3D printed prosthetics we’ve seen lately, whether meant for sports or more complex offerings with integrated bionics. It works with a headset, whether you prefer the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, or other applications—and with the inclusion of the hand, offering 11 degrees of tracking, the Dexta development team sees this as the true way to experience VR.

The exoskeleton lets you reach out and grab those virtual reality items you’ve just been watching so far, whether you are using it in medical applications, training, education, or of course—gaming. Aside from just seeing and hearing, the goal with the Dexmo is for you to interact naturally, taking us closer and closer to a comprehensive VR world. The device is lightweight and wireless, and allows you to simulate touch. But this doesn’t mean you are grasping at images. Depending on what it is you are reaching for, the device pulls your fingers back according to shape and stiffness, allowing you to feel the object as well as discern between something like a rock or a rubber duck.

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“Just like in the real world, you reach out your hands for the object, and close your hands when you want to grasp it,” states Dexta in their video (see below). “Then Dexmo will apply realistic force feedback to your fingertips, so you can seamlessly feel the object, as if you are actually holding it in your hand.”

While this may be the first you have heard of the Dexmo, the company has been developing and testing the design for two years, with 20 iterations behind them already. The company started a Kickstarter campaign back in 2014 with an earlier iteration of the glove, which they deemed not yet ready for market before cancelling the campaign.

“These valuable experiences helped us build a better human-machine-interaction tool,” states the Dexta Robotics team on their website.

dexmoUnfortunately though, you probably won’t be finding one of these under the tree at Christmas this year. In a recent interview, the CEO of Dexta, Aler Gu, explained that he’s currently only seeking out ‘keen software developers’ and market leaders to take advantage of the Dexmo so far.

“Selling Dexmo is different than selling consumer electronics because you can’t use Dexmo right out of the box,” Gu added. “It will take some really amazing content for people to realize how gaming-changing this innovation actually is.”

This new angle for VR is about much more than just pretending and escaping into another world. The Dexmo Exoskeleton can be used as a tool even for robotic bomb disposal. Seeing complete interaction as the next challenge looming in the VR industry, Dexta is pulling that all together with patented mechanics, precise motor control algorithms, and dynamic grasping handling software. You may already be  looking at your controllers with disdain, but patience is in order here as the Dexmo will require compatibility with software and programming before it hits the market, meeting your future gaming needs. Discuss this new product further in the Dexmo Exoskeleton & Virtual Reality forum over at 3DPB.com.

[Source: Dexta Robotics; Engadget; Digital Trends]

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