CES 2024: Afference's Phantom Wins Top Award for Revolutionary XR Accessory, Bringing Touch to Virtual Reality

CES 2024: Afference’s Phantom Wins Top Award for Revolutionary XR Accessory, Bringing Touch to Virtual Reality

A crazy cool new device called Phantom just won a big award at CES 2024. Created by neuroscientists at a startup called Afference, it lets you feel virtual objects and textures using neural stimulation.
It has these sensor rings you wear on your fingers. Then it interfaces with your nervous system to create sensations matching whatever you see in VR, AR, or other spatial computing. So you can reach out and actually feel shapes, textures, weights – stuff that’s not really there.

I got to chat with Afference’s CEO and co-founder Jacob about how this mind-blowing tech took home the top prize for XR accessories at CES. He said the judges were blown away because they’d never encountered anything like it before.

Phantom grew out of their work on advanced prosthetics that could provide touch feedback. Now they’ve shrunk down the tech to fit on your hand. The company is just a year old, but the science behind it has been studied for decades.

Jacob envisions Phantom expanding into consumer electronics in the coming years. It’ll start as a 5-finger glove, then go into wristbands and rings. This will allow seamless touch interactions in spatial computing when you’re manipulating 3D digital content.

He said it can revolutionize fields like education, healthcare, and social media by adding realistic tactile sensations. Students could learn better, paralyzed patients could regain function, and social media could become more expressive.

Right now Afference is partnering with enterprises but hopes to make the tech widely available down the line. As a young startup they’re hiring fast and pushing hard to bring this new world of touchable computing to consumers.

It’s an exciting breakthrough taking touch into the digital realm. We can’t wait to see Phantom in action and experience the textures, weights and feels it can create!