As the world looks ahead to a hybrid in-person and online future, the INVIVO team has continued to bring stories to life across the healthcare spectrum using unique and innovative digital tools. Here, we look at the potential of haptic feedback to enhance a VR experience.

While navigating a virtual reality experience about multiple sclerosis, our team demonstrates the versatility of the BeBop Sensors haptic gloves. 

Focusing on MS

For this exploration, our team chose to focus on the pathophysiology of Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Neurons in the brain normally exhibit a regular pattern and intensity when active. However, in patients with MS, neurons have experienced demyelination which impacts the way that these signals travel. Using haptic feedback technology gave us a goal to provide users with a sensory experience that helps to reinforce this difference by ‘feeling’ the signal for both a normal person and a patient with late-stage MS.

The project does not include any therapeutic options or treatment and is unbranded while we experiment with the types of feedback the BeBop haptic gloves can produce, and how they feel in conjunction with the VR animation. 

A haptic glove floats in a field of interactive purple and blue neurons, alight with electricity.

A screen from the MS Haptic Explorer experience showing the myelin sheaths, and a representation of a haptic glove within the VR space.

Technologically speaking, we faced the challenge of finding ways to create haptic feedback that was distinctive for both the healthy sheaths, and the sheaths with late-stage demyelination. To be memorable, the feelings needed to be distinct and identifiable. Having 6 sensors (one for each finger, and across the palm) allows for a range of sensations.

A further challenge of course, was to work on this during the pandemic, when we are all in our homes and not able to get together and quickly pass around the haptic glove. Care was taken to sanitize the glove throughout the project and a small crew volunteered to film this piece at INVIVO following local PHU guidelines.

The result is an experience we can’t wait to share with clients and colleagues once this pandemic is under control worldwide.

You can watch more videos in our Rare Insights series here.


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