Haptic gloves make big impact

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WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, Ohio (AFLCMC) – In a recent survey, 100% of users were “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with Maestro haptic gloves produced by Contact Control Interfaces under a Small Business Innovation Research contract with AFLCMC’s Simulators Innovation Team. 
Used in a MC-12W cockpit simulator by the 137th Special Operations Wing at Will Rogers Air National Guard Base, Oklahoma, the gloves offer tangible interactions to greatly enhance the benefit of Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality simulator training, according to Dylan Greco, a program manager with the Innovation Cell.
The SBIR contract was awarded following Contact CI’s presentation at Pitch Day 2020, an event sponsored by the Sims Innovation Team.  The company is currently nearing the end of its phase II work that began in December 2020.   
“Contact CI has done an excellent job of blending force feedback and vibrotactile feedback. They have been able to create complex tangible interactions like switchology tasks inside VR cockpits while using a wireless lightweight wearable glove. Contact CI has convincingly simulated the sense of touch for VR and AR,” said Margaret Merkle, Innovation Cell Program Manager.
The Sims Innovation Team has demonstrated the haptic gloves serval times in person and has been amazed at the level of detail that has been put into the product, Greco said. 
The 137th and other end users value this technology as critical to increasing efficiency, effectiveness, and cost ROI of simulation training. Without tangible interactions, users would notice a massive limit in VR/AR sims training today, he added.
For the Will Rogers-Air Logistics Complex, value comes from utilizing Contact CI’s haptic gloves for VR maintenance training in support of the joint command workload of operational and depot level maintenance training, according to Merkle.  An example would be C-130 engine run training, that previously required the hands-on skills needed during maintenance operations.
Contact CI also made an appearance at the MOTAR expo hosted by Dynepic on November 12th, 2021, where Greco said they received excellent feedback from several users.
“The Sims Innovation Team envisions this project going beyond their phase II contract,” Merkle said. “Contact CI plans to continue their support with the137th SOW, AFMC Warner Robins Air Logistics complex, and the AFRL gaming lab. We are hopeful that this technology can transition into a phase III sustainment project in the near future.”