Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
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  • Meta announced on Tuesday it was making a haptic-feedback glove that can be used in virtual reality.
  • A startup called HaptX said the glove looks "substantively identical" to its own patented tech.
  • HaptX's CEO told GeekWire the company had shown the tech to Meta executives in the past. 
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, on Tuesday revealed a new product to fit into its plans for the metaverse: a haptic-feedback glove that allowed CEO Mark Zuckerberg to play Jenga in virtual reality.

Less than 24 hours later, a startup called HaptX claimed the glove was practically identical to its own patented tech, which it said it had previously shown to Meta executives.

Haptic-feedback technology reproduces the sensation of touch, and can be coupled with virtual reality to give the illusion that the user is physically touching an object in a virtual space.

HaptX CEO Jake Rubin told GeekWire that core components of Meta's glove "appear to be substantively identical to HaptX's patented technology."

Rubin pointed to the gloves' "silicone-based microfluidic tactile feedback laminate" and their "pneumatic control architecture."  

Rubin said that over the years HaptX has "hosted many engineers, researchers, and executives from Meta to demonstrate our groundbreaking haptic technology."

"We welcome interest and competition in the field of microfluidic haptics; however, competition must be fair for the industry to thrive," said Rubin.

In a press release announcing the gloves, Meta said its teams had been working for seven years on various technologies that went into its gloves.

A HaptX haptic feedback glove, as pictured on an Insider reporter in September 2019.
Insider/Isobel Asher Hamilton

Rubin said Meta had not contacted HaptX. "We look forward to working with them to reach a fair and equitable arrangement that addresses our concerns and enables them to incorporate our innovative technology into their future consumer products," he said.

Meta's gloves are not yet designed for consumers, according to the company's press release. "While our haptic glove research will remain in the lab for now, we're excited about the progress we've made and the potential it shows for a virtual world you can touch," the release said.

HaptX was founded in 2012, and specialises in building haptic feedback technology, mostly for VR purposes. In 2019, it collaborated with two other companies to create a pair of giant robotic hands that could be remotely controlled by its gloves. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos tried the technology at a convention in June 2019, and said it felt "weirdly natural."

Meta did not immediately reply when contacted by Insider, and declined to comment when contacted by GeekWire.

HaptX did not immediately reply when contacted by Insider.

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