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Hand in Glove: BeBop Sensors

Hand in Glove: BeBop Sensors

With the launch of Forte Data Gloves from BeBop Sensors an immersive experience in virtual or augmented reality is now at the fingertips of a spectrum of industries.

The award-winning technology offers a hands-on experience and  sensation of “touch” within a VR environment, explains Keith McMillen, company CEO.

Described as “affordable, high performance and ultra-comfortable,” the wireless data glove, which uses smart fabric sensor technology, is suitable for a wide range of applications.

These include wearable, industrial and human uses, as well as possible applications in sports; the automotive and medical industries; the military; outdoor wear; virtual reality; gaming; and musical instruments.

They were originally designed to remove the ‘virtual’ in VR applications. Existing devices already had a great display providing a visual experience akin to reality and the audio was superb, but there was no touch feeling. In a VR environment, you could see your virtual hands, but the computer never knew where they were in real-time, it approximated.

Super Sensitive

Mr. McMillen, a musician,inventor and owner of Keith McMillen Instruments (KMI) – says early versions of VR gloves were “clunky.”

They were tethered to the computer, so your hand felt the constant tug of a cable, undoing the intended experience, whereas BeBop Sensors Forte Gloves are wireless. They work for eight hours on a single charge via USB and can communicate via Bluetooth; one size fits all; they’re light and the sensors are super sensitive and accurate.

The glove features 10 smart fabric bend sensors located above each knuckle with bend accuracy and repeatability +/- 1.5 degree and high sensor speeds of 500Hz.

A nine degree inertial measurement unit (IMU) provides extremely low drift and reliable pre-blended accelerometer and gyro sensor data.

In gaming, the gloves offer a trigger speed which matches the visuals, with no lag.

With the haptic actuators in the gloves, players can not only see precisely where their hand is, but also each of their fingers.

Varied Applications

Customers in the industrial and automotive sectors who were using other BeBop sensors created applications on their own with the gloves, Mr McMillen explains:

In an industrial setting, a worker wearing our gloves can bring a lot of data back to the workplace designer. They can prevent injuries; they can design work so that the pressure applied to someone’s hands is within what is acceptable by medical standards. There are a whole host of applications associated with this.

The data is gathered by the gloves and passed on to the customer who manages it.

Each of our customers in the industrial, medical and automotive industries has different ways of managing the data. The formats, the analysis and resulting output are specific to their application needs.

The affordability comes down to the manufacturing process. The fabric is made in rolls and coated with the company’s proprietary nanomaterials that give the sensors the properties.

Other smart fabric products from the company include the BopPad drum pad.

We have also built smart fabric sensors into car seats, steering wheels, foot pressure diagnostic equipment, hospital wheelchairs, patient beds, sports helmets and shoulder pads. We have an endless list of applications for our products.