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Haptic gloves bring long-distance couples a touch closer

February 14, 2017 | Telepresence Options

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Story and images by New Atlas

Social media lets us keep in contact with way more people than ever before, but our interaction with most of our Facebook friends is probably limited to the odd "Like" now and then, and a generic happy birthday message once a year. It's easier than ever for long-distance couples to stay connected, but if Skype calls and texting aren't quite enough, the Flex-N-Feel glove, developed by researchers at Simon Fraser University, can help transmit the touch of a hand.

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Long-distance canoodlers already have plenty of options, spanning the spectrum from G to NSFW. The HaptiHug hands out "telecuddles" from other players in the game Second Life, and the Like-A-Hug vest will translate those precious Facebook Likes into virtual hugs by inflating itself around you. The KissPhone is a bit creepier, asking you to make out with a pair of fake lips that measure the pressure, percussion speed, temperature and sucking force of your mouth, and recreates your kissing style for whoever's on the other end of the line. The field of "teledildonics," which is exactly what it sounds like, takes remote touch to its logical conclusion.

But the Flex-N-Feel glove has more wholesome goals in mind. The gloves are each fitted with sensors attached to microcontrollers, and a Wi-Fi module. When the fingers on one hand are flexed or bent, the signal is sent via Wi-Fi to the sensors in the other glove, which will vibrate to recreate the motion. Couples can hold or stroke each other's hands, or even give their partner a light massage, from basically anywhere.

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