Dexmo – Exoskeleton for VR control, remote manipulation

Dexta Robotics is running a Kickstarter campaign to fund their VR manipulation system.

Dexta Robotics is running a Kickstarter campaign for Dexmo, their exoskeleton hand to manipulate objects in virtual reality. Dexmo is unique because it allows the user to feel feedback from the digital world, acting not just as inputs to the game but outputs to your hand.

Demonstrations on the campaign page show many examples of users moving objects. A robotic hand moves as the Dexmo is flexed and opened by the user. Several digital hands move and demonstrate all six degrees of freedom.

Rotational sensors in the fingers and joints give feedback to the system to tell the virtual hand when to open and close. If the system senses that the digital hand is closing around a digital object the controller applies a small braking force to the fingers, making the user feel the resistance of the object.

My favorite example in the video is a user wearing two Dexmos, performing a remote bomb disposal simulation. Each robotic gripper follows the movements of the user in unison and moves the object cleanly and quickly. The video on the Kickstarter page is far superior to this one, but is not available for embedding.

Dexmo is amazing to watch, looking futuristic and functional. The Kickstarter video says that they couldn’t make it small, so they made it cool. A gif on the Kickstarter page scrolls through all seventeen iterations of the system’s development and is fascinating to watch.

Backers can pledge $179 and get one Dexmo F2 unit, with a free software development kit and sample programs. The units are expected to ship in June 2015.

This project is huge and can be used for virtual reality developers, simulation analysts, manufacturing and gaming. Fully developing this technology could give us the ability to feel a punch from a video game or allow deep sea drillers to physically feel resistance remotely.