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These Gloves Add Touch to Virtual Reality

Virtual reality puts strange digital worlds on our faces and computer screens for an immersive experience of sight and sound. But that's just two of our five senses. Adding touch opens a whole new universe of possibilities, which is exactly what the Gloveones are designed to do. These new green and black gloves made by NeuroDigital Technologies will let you feel sensations like shape and weight when interacting with virtual objects. 

The Spain-based tech company has finished prototyping the product and created a Kickstarter page to finance the manufacturing of the gloves. The actual gloves aren't expected to start shipping until February 2016.     

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NeuroDigital Technologies claims wearers if Gloveone will be able to feel rain and fire, and you should be able to feel something as ethereal as butterfly wings. The technology translates touch sensations into vibrations, and each pair has 10 sensors placed in the palm and fingertips. Four of those sensors -- located in the palm, thumb, index and middle fingers -- can detect one another, letting you fire a gun or grab an apple.

The gloves also include a nine-Axis inertial measurement unity (IMU) sensor, which can be placed beneath the gloves. An IMU sensor, often used to maneuver satellites or other aircraft, can record velocity, orientation and gravitational forces using accelerometers, gyroscopes and magnetometers. In the Gloveone, the IMU sensor will track your hands within the virtual world to offer a more realistic experience. However, right now, the gloves do not offer movement resistance.

On the Kickstarter page, the company describes the sensation of wearing these gloves as a “realistic perceptual illusion,” meaning that you can’t feel the weight of a virtual object the same as it is in real life, but you can compare weights within the virtual world. The gloves are available in three sizes. Each "antibacterial, sweat-proof" pair features a Bluetooth wireless connection, and should offer more than 4 hours of battery life. 

NeuroDigital Technologies plans to continue to develop the gloves, and hopes to add support for Google Cardboard VR apps, for instance. More than 145 backers have signed up so far, helping them reach their $150,000 goal. Rewards for pledges include everything from posters and one of the first Gloveones to a trip to Spain to meet the makers and the chance to personalize a Gloveone. For $199, you can get your own pair. 

With 35 days left in the Kickstarter campaign, NeuroDigital technologies has to raise a little more than $100,000 in order to make its Gloveone a reality, and not just a virtual one. Regardless, it was only a matter of time before someone added another sense to the virtual world, and touch seems like the logical next step. We can't wait to try them out. 

Ilyse Liffreing is an intern at Tom’s Guide. She will be receiving her MA from NYU. You can follow Ilyse on Twitter @IlyseLiffreing or on Facebook.