Special Edition Future Tech: Sense of touch in virtual reality & humans becoming cyborgs
This week we explore new technologies that are bridging the gap between humans and machines.
Would you lie to a robot if pitted against it? Would you become a cyborg if offered the chance? And what would it be like to have a sense of touch in a virtual reality game? Keep reading to find out more.
See, hear… and now touch in virtual reality
As much as we enjoy virtual reality these days, there's still the occasional urge to fiddle with virtual objects using just our hands. If all goes well, the upcoming Manus VR glove will be the first to unwrap our hands from controllers, but it'll only provide tactile feedback, meaning you still won't be able to feel the shape nor physical properties of virtual objects. This is where Dexmo comes in: This mechanical exoskeleton glove tracks 11 degrees of freedom of motion and offers variable force feedback for each finger. To put it simply, you'll be able to realistically squeeze a rubber duck in the VR world. Better yet, this seemingly clunky glove claim to be lightweight and also runs wirelessly "for a relatively long time."
Dexta Robotics, the Chinese startup behind Dexmo, has spent the last two years coming up with over 20 prototypes before getting to the current version. Unfortunately for us mere mortals, it'll be a while before we can get our hands on this device. CEO Aler Gu told Engadget that he's only made a batch of Dexmo and is currently seeking keen software developers plus VR/MR (mixed reality) market leaders who can take full advantage of his gear, before he eventually takes it to market — be it for gaming, education, medical or training.
Want to become a cyborg? The first step is here.
If you’ve always wanted to be a cyborg, an artificially-enhanced human with bionic technology, but you’ve always been too afraid of getting a chip in your wrist, North Sense might be your answer. The new product, which vibrates every time it senses the magnetic north, is hinged into your skin with piercing barbells.
Created by Cyborg Nest, a new company and online shop, North Sense is the first cyborg product in a series that will launch over the coming year. The company will show off its progress at an event in Las Vegas on July 26.
The company is co-founded by world-renowned cyborg artists Neil Harbisson and Moon Ribas alongside digital entrepreneur Scott Cohen, body modification artist Steve Haworth and Liviu Babitz, the former COO of the human rights organizations, Videre Est Credere.
“We aim to help as many people as possible become cyborgs,” said Liviu.
“North Sense is what they call an “artificial sense” that vibrates each time you’re facing magnetic north, which humans have no natural ability to sense. “We believe that if we could sense something that animals can sense, we can understand more about this world,” said Babitz. “Understanding will lead us to also respect more, create more and make the next positive steps in the future of our evolution.”
Why humans trust robots with expressions, even if we shouldn’t
From The Telegraph:
If a robot has enough human characteristics people will lie to it to save hurting its feelings, a study has shown.
The study, which explored how robots can gain a human's trust even when they make mistakes, pitted an efficient but inexpressive robot against an error prone, emotional one and monitored how its colleagues treated it.
The researchers found that people are more likely to forgive a personable robot's mistakes, and will even go so far as lying to the robot to prevent its feelings from being hurt.
Researchers at the University of Bristol and University College London used a robot called Bert to help participants with a cooking exercise. Bert has two large eyes and a mouth, making it capable of looking happy and sad, or not expressing emotion at all. The researchers tasked the "expressive" robot with helping a human cook an omelette, with the job of passing eggs, salt and oil to its human counterpart. …
At the end of the trial the researchers asked the participants which robot they preferred working with. Even though the third robot made mistakes, 15 of the 21 participants picked it as their favourite.
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