Force-feedback joysticks that rumble and jerk in time to action in a game are all very well but they don't actually give much of an impression of the real experience. That's something a Japanese company is hoping to change with its virtual-reality glove that allows users to physically feel on-screen objects.

The ' Tangible-3D ' system from NTT Comware combines a monitor that gives the illusion of three-dimensional images with a robotic glove. In this way it is able to convey the shape and size of whatever is on the screen to the human hand.

Virtual image, real feedback

Those images are created using two cameras to give a 'stereo' effect. And the same data is then fed into the glove, which responds through actuator motors as the user moves his hand around the object he perceives. The result is pressure on the fingertips, just as a real object would create.

Comware hopes to develop the system further to allow users to alter the virtual objects and to enable more than one glove to operate at the same time. It'll likely be a learning aid for medical students and scientists of the future.