Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Engineering Whiz Improves Virtual-Reality Glove

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Engineering Whiz Improves Virtual-Reality Glove

Article excerpt

Imagine an astronaut on the International Space Station sitting in a virtual-reality simulator. She controls remotely a robot's movements through her own and by seeing, hearing - even feeling - the environment it works in. That's a scenario likely to play out in the next few years, thanks in part to a savvy high school student who interned at NASA's Johnson Space Center last summer.

While forms of virtual reality (VR) have been around for years, researchers have struggled to accurately replicate the sensation of touch. Under the direction of NASA engineer Chris Lovchik, student Chris Ezell designed a glove with small air pockets that astronauts in a virtual-reality machine could wear. When someone "reaches" for a round object - thereby prompting the robot performing the task to pick up an object - air pockets in the glove compress and decompress on the astronaut's hands. The wearer feels like he is actually grabbing it.

Mr. Ezell is a second-year student at the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science, a two-year program at the University of North Texas that enables talented students to complete freshman and sophomore years of college while earning high school diplomas. …

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