A new generation of HaptX Gloves
At HaptX, our team is celebrating a milestone-filled 2018. We started the year strong, receiving the Lumiere Technology Award in January, alongside companies like Disney and Microsoft. Weeks later, we traveled to Park City, Utah to debut our HaptX Glove prototype at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. We were the first VR company to introduce a prototype at Sundance since Oculus unveiled an early version of their Rift in 2012. The Verge listed HaptX as among the best of the festival.
We ended the year on an even higher note with the launch of our HaptX Gloves Development Kit. This new industrial-grade system offers the most realistic haptics experience to date.
The HaptX Gloves Development Kit debuted on October 3, in New York City at Future of Storytelling and in Seattle at the GeekWire Summit. GeekWire praised our newest product as an “Invention We Love” and invited Co-founder Bob Crockett to show off our new technology to the crowd.
“The release of the HaptX Gloves Development Kit is a milestone that we’ve been working toward for almost five years,” says CEO and Jake Rubin. “It marks the first commercial availability of our industry-leading microfluidic haptic technology platform. Dozens of leading companies around the world in the automotive, aerospace, industrial, and government sectors are already seeing incredible results with the HaptX Gloves Development Kit for design and training applications.”
VR immerses itself into pop culture
This year marked the release of Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster adaptation of Ready Player One, prompting a wave of curiosity about the state of immersive technology and its use cases. Fortunately, we had an answer.
Following the film’s release, The Wall Street Journal profiled HaptX, proclaiming immersive haptics is “closer than you think.” Our team took over the Ready Player One livestream on Twitch at the 2018 South by Southwest Conference. We even turned VR skeptics into evangelists.
Destin Sandlin, YouTuber and creator of Smarter Every Day, heard about our invention and wanted to try it out live on camera. We not only blew his mind; we blew up the internet. Destin’s video is approaching two million views and hit YouTube’s front page.
Later in the year, Destin invited us to show off our new HaptX Gloves Development Kit with other YouTube stars in Huntsville, Alabama at the first-ever ThinkerCon. It was exciting to see them love our stuff as well. We also demoed to astronauts at NASA.
“Engineers, educators, and researchers recognize that we’re solving hard problems, and that HaptX Gloves are a radical departure from what’s been done before,” said Andrew Mitrak, Director of Marketing. “We’re fortunate to have smart storytellers like Smarter Every Day, Research VR, and Voices of VR educate their audiences about our team’s novel approach to building realistic haptic technology.”
The software that powers our haptics
While our gloves garner the most attention, our software is the invisible force that makes them so powerful. In 2018, we released our first fully-featured Software Development Kit (SDK), which enables users to integrate realistic haptic feedback when developing their VR experiences.
“We’re always striving to maximize our users’ immersion in virtual worlds by creating experiences that behave like users expect—experiences where you don’t have to think about what you’re doing; you just do it,” says Software Engineering Manager Ed Foley. “The same principle guided the software team to the first customer-facing SDK release, sporting plugins for Unreal Engine and Unity that instantly, intuitively, and effectively enhance customer projects with haptics.”
“We’ve now seen (and felt) some incredible simulations created by customers with the power of this SDK across many different industries.” – Ed Foley
Additional software upgrades include designing and rigging hand avatars with a more realistic appearance, publishing a customer support website filled with video tutorials and user guides necessary for easy SDK operation, and building a library full of haptic primitives. Primitives are elements that take the form of knobs, buttons, and switches that can be applied as templates to common haptic interactions in a virtual environment.
“We’ve now seen (and felt) some incredible simulations created by customers with the power of this SDK across many different industries,” said Foley. “Recent improvements to our haptic algorithms, object-based interactions, and API functionality will help our users create even more immersive and creative content in 2019 and beyond.”
Our 2019 game plan
With the announcement of our HaptX Gloves Development Kit, we launched an Early Access application. We’re working with leading companies to integrate HaptX Gloves into their VR design and training workflows, and we’ve already seen fantastic results.
In November, we showed off a medical combat training simulation created in partnership with Engineering and Computer Simulations (ECS) at I/ITSEC. Our haptic technology complemented their first responder field medical training module.
“HaptX Gloves never failed to impress those who experienced the high-fidelity tactile representations provided by the gloves,” said Director of Business Development Kim Oberg. “It was exciting to hear the positive feedback, imaginative vision for use, and enthusiasm for the HaptX Gloves.”
In addition to working with more customers in 2019, we’re continuing to pioneer research and development in haptics. One emerging application for our technology is telerobotics.
In 2018, we joined the Avatar X consortium with companies including Softbank, ANA, and JAXA to pioneer the next generation of space exploration through integrating robotics, sensors, and haptics.
“This exciting new opportunity is an important step to providing realistic feedback for remotely interacting with the world,” said Director of R&D Michael Eichermueller. “This will allow people to work in hazardous environments without endangering themselves, engage in new experiences without the need for expensive travel, and engage with others around the globe in a whole new way.”
“I’m very proud of what our team has accomplished to date, and I look forward to the continued rapid growth of the HaptX ecosystem in 2019 and beyond.” – Jake Rubin
Finally, we aim to accelerate our product, technology, and business development in 2019. We will need all the help we can get. Last year we brought on 17 new people to our team, and we’re moving our engineering operation to a newer, bigger office in the coming months to give us room to grow.
“It’s exciting to watch this company grow from 13 employees when I started to 40 today in just a few years,” said CFO Alicia Evans. “Together our passion for the work drives our success and we’re hoping to bring on more talent with fresh ideas in the coming year.”
“I’m very proud of what our team has accomplished to date, and I look forward to the continued rapid growth of the HaptX ecosystem in 2019 and beyond,” Rubin concluded.
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