Fluid Reality: High-Resolution, Untethered Haptic Gloves using Electroosmotic Pump Arrays

Virtual and augmented reality headsets are making significant progress in audio-visual immersion and consumer adoption. However, their haptic immersion remains low, due in part to the limitations of vibrotactile actuators which dominate the AR/VR market. In this work, we present a new approach to create high-resolution shape-changing fingerpad arrays with 20 haptic pixels/cm². Unlike prior pneumatic approaches, our actuators are low-profile (5mm thick), low-power (approximately 10mW/pixel), and entirely self-contained, with no tubing or wires running to external infrastructure. We show how multiple actuator arrays can be built into a five-finger, 160-actuator haptic glove that is untethered, lightweight (207g, including all drive electronics and battery), and has the potential to reach consumer price points at volume production. We describe the results from a technical performance evaluation and a suite of eight user studies, quantifying the diverse capabilities of our system. This includes recognition of object properties such as complex contact geometry, texture, and compliance, as well as expressive spatiotemporal effects.

Research Team: Vivian Shen, Tucker Rae-Grant, Joe Mullenbach, Chris Harrison, Craig Shultz


Shen, V., Rae-Grant, T., Mullenbach, J., Harrison, C. and Shultz, C. 2023. Fluid Reality: High-Resolution, Untethered Haptic Gloves using Electroosmotic Pump Arrays. In Proceedings of the 36th Annual ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology (October 29 – November 1, 2023). UIST '23. ACM, New York, NY. 


The following materials are made freely available, with attribution to "Fluid Reality & CMU".  

Glove with components showing.

Closeup photos of haptic components.

Complete glove, with outer covering.

Complete glove, with outer covering.

Exploded view of one fingertip array.

A) Complete glove. B) Glove with outer layer removed, revealing the inner haptic components. C) Closeup of fingers. D) Side view of one fingertip array. E) Fingertip array with clip opened. Note there are no wires or supply tubes running to external infrastructure. This version of our glove is battery-powered and wirelessly controlled; hand tracking is provided by the headset. 

Shots of user wearing glove.

Example objects with textures, such as smooth, rough, ridged and bumpy.