Facebook, now Meta, is actively co-developing a suit that could mimic real-world actions into the virtual metaverse. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and Meta and are calling the technology ‘ReSkin’, and the suit’s material is just 3mm thick.
In order to make the metaverse feel realistic, and offer an elevated level of interaction, Meta would require much more than Virtual Reality headsets. The company seems to be developing ‘ReSkin’, a wearable suit akin to the ‘X1 Haptic BootSuit’ from the Sci-Fi movie, ‘Ready Player One’.
Artificial Intelligence researchers at Meta and Carnegie Mellon scientists co-developed deformable plastic “skin” less than 3 mm thick:
Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, now CEO of Meta, indicated the company is actively co-developing a new touch sensor and a plastic material. Together, these new technologies could eventually offer much better interaction with the virtual environment, artifacts, avatars, and other aspects of the metaverse.
he wants to reskin us. I'm so excited. https://t.co/fQvtVd9H41
— Let's dream like a bunch of maniacs 🇵🇸 #BLM (@jumanatag) November 1, 2021
The artificial and deformable skin is jointly developed by Meta and Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania. It features a rubbery plastic layer that is less than 3 millimeters thick.
The technology, called ‘ReSkin’, has several magnetic particles that are embedded inside. These particles interact with sensors that sit nearby. Artificial Intelligence or AI will eventually be able to translate the variation of magnetic fields into actions that reflect in the virtual world of the metaverse.
Today, as part of a larger tactile-sensing ecosystem, we’re announcing two major advances: DIGIT, a commercially available touch-sensing hardware produced in partnership with GelSight, and ReSkin, a replaceable, low-cost tactile skin. Read more about our work in touch sensing:
— Meta AI (@facebookai) November 1, 2021
Essentially, when ReSkin touches a surface, the rubbery plastic deforms. Consequentially, it alters the magnetic field created by the embedded particles. An array of sensors within close proximity of the ReSkin pick up these variations and feed the data into a computational device.
We’re also open-sourcing ReSkin, an affordable tactile sensor that autocalibrates through self-supervision. ReSkin will help to advance AI’s ability to obtain & use tactile data, getting us closer to deploying reliable touch sensing in research. More: https://t.co/aB315LEJpB pic.twitter.com/eoZoRZkXBw
— Meta AI (@facebookai) November 1, 2021
An AI model is studying these changes in the magnetic field, and attempting to translate them into human-like movement. Currently, it can translate these variations into force (measured in Newton), and could eventually obtain an accurate sense of touch.
Meta ReSkin specifications, features, availability, and price:
It is important to note that ReSkin is currently under active development. In other words, the technology is experimental in nature.
Nonetheless, the preliminary findings are very promising. ReSkin, can reportedly measure a touch as light as 0.1 newtons of force with an accuracy of 1 millimeter.
— Microchip Makes (@MicrochipMakes) November 1, 2021
The technology can monitor changes up to 400 times a second. The AI model is currently training with 100 touches from a human. It will correlate the same with the magnetic variations, and build a model for the “sense of touch”.
One of the major benefits of ReSkin is that system only requires the monitoring equipment to be in close proximity. In other words, users need not wear the monitoring and translation machinery.
What is even more surprising is the projected affordability of ReSkin. Abhinav Gupta at Meta AI Research says, “the material can be thinner and is less expensive to make. At present, the materials required to make each ReSkin cost less than $6.”
— CMU School of Computer Science (@SCSatCMU) November 1, 2021
Users can wear the ReSkin suit more than 50,000 times before the magnetic particles need replacing. In other words, the technology is highly reusable.
Mere visuals will not be enough for the citizens of the metaverse. They will eventually need to interact with virtual objects. The ReSkin technology could help Meta offer a “sense of touch” or a much-heightened level of interaction and realism in the metaverse.