Long-distance relationships are more common today, but distance does not have to mean missing out on having a physical presence and sharing space. If people cannot physically be together, the next best solutions apparently is touch technology that enhances remote relationships. Long-distance couples can now share a walk, watch movies together, and even give each other a massage, using a new technology being developed at the Simon-Fraser University in Canada.
Researchers have designed a pair of interconnected gloves called Flex-N-Feel. When fingers 'flex' in one glove, the actions are transmitted to a remote partner wearing the other. The glove's tactile sensors allow the wearer to 'feel' the movements.
To capture the flex actions, the sensors are attached to a microcontroller. The sensors provide a value for each bend, and are transmitted to the 'feel' glove using a Wi-Fi module. The sensors are also placed strategically on the palm side of the fingers in order to better feel the touch. A soft-switch on both gloves also allows either partner to initiate the touch.
The research team behind the glove says that users can make intimate gestures such as touching the face, holding hands, and giving a hug with a gentle and subtle bending or flexing of one’s finger.
The gloves are currently a prototype and in testing phase. While one set of gloves enables one-way remote touch between partners, a second set could allow both to share touches at the same time.