Touching the “Void” is an interactive experience about spatial recognition and sensory perception. It displays virtual objects on a physical pedestal and uses vibration gloves to create the haptic sensation when the audience interacts with the virtual object. The data of user’s finger position is tracked by a LeapMotion embedded in the pedestal, then fed to Arduino to activate the corresponding vibration motors beneath fingertips. The project investigates how can an audience form the impression of an object in their mind without the physical agent of it in reality. Therefore, the object takes on a presence when it is being interacted with by people who are wearing the haptic gloves. By limiting and distorting the sensory input, the audience’s cognition of a space has changed. It signifies a space which is neither not-empty nor not-full, and raises the discussion of reconstructing the reality.
“By seeing that nothingness is the fundamental reality, and you see it’s your reality. Nothingness is really like the nothingness of space, which contains the whole universe.”
As Werner Heisenberg stated in his book Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Science: “We have to remember that what we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning.” Because of the limitations of our perception and cogitation, the information we get can only be fragmented and incomplete. The reality we believe is only an impression of all the sensory inputs after processed by our brain. Then could an object exist in people’s mind without a physical agency or a visible form, only through the sensation of touch? How different is the experience between each participant that might lead to diverse assumptions of the same object?
Human are visual animals; we rely on our eyes and believe the world is exactly like what we see. We think an object physically exists in our real world because we can perceive it with our eyes and feel it with our hands. Creating a virtual object which is unseeable but provides physical sensations despite its invisibility challenges people’s definition about virtual and reality. It signifies a space which is not-full because of the lack of physical volume, and also not-empty due to the touching feeling it provides.
The participant is asked to put on a pair of haptic gloves placed in the drawer of the pedestal, then move their hands above the pedestal to explore the shape of the object. A Leap Motion, a hand tracking sensor, is embedded under the surface of the pedestal, in order to track the position of the participant’s finger and trigger the haptic gloves to vibrate correspondingly when the audience touches the surface of the virtual object. Guided by where the vibration happens, the audience will gradually understand the shape of the object and construct the image of it in their mind.
Creators(VICE): These Smart Gloves Let You Feel Things in Virtual Reality
“…a thought-provoking project by interactive designer Danli Hu reminds us that reality has never been concrete.”
“…The project is called Touching the Void, and involves a user putting on a pair of gloves connected to a pedestal where the virtual objects get rendered, though remain unseen to the wearer.”
Parsons Student Work: Danli Hu – Touching the Void