This Neural Haptic Glove Lets You Feel Things That Aren’t Even There

Afference, a company founded by neuroscientists, has clinched the CES 2024 Innovation Award for its pioneering device, Phantom. Jacob Segil, CEO and co-founder of Afference, sheds light on the innovative Phantom device and its journey to winning the prestigious award in XR Technologies & Accessories.

Phantom emerges from decades of research in neural interfaces, allowing users to feel the texture, weight, and warmth of virtual objects. The self-aligning rings of Phantom offer a transparent interface, seamlessly bridging the gap between the physical and digital worlds. Worn on the wrist, its electronics provide a mobile and wireless connection to spatial computing headsets, glasses, or mobile devices.

Jacob Segil, in an interview with Interesting Engineering, explains the essence of Phantom. He states, “This neural haptic device allows you to feel things that aren’t there. We’re using neural stimulation to create artificial sensations in your fingers, paired with three-dimensional content in virtual or augmented reality.” Segil suggests that Phantom enables digital dexterity, allowing users to be as agile in the digital realm as they are in the physical world.

Originating from prosthetic research, Phantom holds promise for differently-abled individuals. Segil points out, “Our work and inventions have come out of the prosthetic space.” Drawing on their expertise, Afference envisions Phantom transforming spatial computing and beyond. Beyond prosthetics, Phantom’s applications span education, health, entertainment, and social interactions.

Afference, a year-old company, draws on 30 years of technology study. Segil reflects on their journey, “One year later, we won the Best of Innovation Award.” Currently engaged in development projects with enterprise clients, Afference envisions future consumer electronics incorporating Phantom. The initial form factor will likely be the five-finger wearable Phantom, with future iterations including wrist-worn and ring-based devices.

Jacob Segil envisions a future where Phantom transforms how we interact with digital content. He suggests an age where glasses display digital content in three-dimensional space, enabling users to manipulate it seamlessly with wearable technology. Phantom’s potential spans various domains, offering a more immersive and realistic experience in education, health, entertainment, and social interactions.

As an early-stage, high-growth startup, Afference is focused on team expansion, partnerships, and funding. Segil emphasizes, “We’re running as fast as we can to provide these technologies to the world at large.”

Phantom’s impact extends beyond immediate applications, promising transformative changes in the way we perceive and engage with the digital world.

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