Tactile glove is like a homing device for your hand

A prototype glove uses vibrating feedback and a Kinect sensor to guide wearers to items in grocery stores, libraries, warehouses, and other locations.

Black Friday shopping
Quick, get your vibrating glove on! Gridprop/Wikimedia Commons

I've been known to wander the wasteland aisles of the grocery store, seeking out a single elusive item in a futile voyage only slightly shorter than "The Odyssey." If only I had a prototype tactile glove developed by the Helsinki Institute for Information Technology and the Max Planck Institute for Informatics.

The glove works by giving the wearer physical feedback. It vibrates to lead the person to a point in 3D space. The researchers see it being useful for locating items in a supermarket, finding a car in a parking lot, or zeroing in on a book among the stacks of a library.

The project uses four vibrotactile actuators mounted on a glove. A Microsoft Kinect sensor is used to track the hand. Head researcher Ville Lehtinen of HIIT describes the experience as feeling almost instinctual. "This provides a very intuitive experience, like the hand being 'pulled' toward the target," Lehtinen said in a release about the project.

I'm imagining a future where you have a glove like this. It's Black Friday. You have your glove set to lead you through the mayhem, straight over to the $59 42-inch LCD TV you've been coveting. The only problem would be if everybody else had the same glove. In that case, you might want a boxing glove. Fistfight in the electronics section!

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