With developing technologies that work with virtual reality, a device that can make you feel things on the month is an exciting innovation. It is a huge leap from the visuals and the sound from a VR alone. Now, people can get to experience the feelings as well.
Not too long ago, VR seemed like a big step up from the regular screens. At that time, setting up your consoles and cable connections like Cox cable packages were massive advancements. Now, different VR accessories can be the next big thing thanks to projects like Meta. However, this product is just a prototype for now.
In this article, you can see what this product is, how it works, and what more to expect from this invention.
Virtual reality aims to make the user feel like they are in a virtual universe. Besides the visuals and sound, another important aspect to make this a reality is inducing the feeling of touch. By working on haptics research – the tech that induces the natural feeling of touch – they have put forward a device that is attachable to a VR headset.
From the visual aspect, this device has a typewriter-like appearance. After attaching the device to VR goggles, one can experience some realistic effects. For example, a user can experience how it feels to have an insect crawl on their face. Another one is the feeling of drinking water from a waterfall. For gamers and augmented reality enthusiasts, these effects can enhance the VR experience to the next level.
As for what works behind these effects, the haptics device uses multiple ultrasound speakers that create vibrations. These vibrations are responsible for the sensations a user feels on their face. The machine does not have motors in it for a better feeling of all these effects.
The Development of This VR Accessory
The Face haptics or VR accessory that makes you feel touch is not a commercial product yet. It is because the developments have been very recent. The first version of this accessory looks very similar to a typewriter with small pointers towards the mouth. However, the researchers of the Future Interfaces Group are already working on developing a design that is a step further from the current functionality and convenience.
Before the haptics research from the Future Interfaces Group, there have been multiple researches in the field as well. A notable one is from a German group that developed a helmet for creating sensations. That helmet includes a mist nozzle, heating wire, a fan, and a rubber tip, all held with a robotic arm within the helmet. According to researchers from the Future Interfaces Group, these helmets can be heavy and difficult to use. In contrast, this new VR accessory is easier to use and wear for the users.
So, the idea of Shen and Harrison, the researchers behind the device, was to make a minimal device that works well. The speakers on the device that create ultrasound vibrations are known as transducers. These transducers create a frequency of sound that people cannot hear. So, there is no background noise to affect the users’ VR experience from the goggles and headphones.
What Do the Users Say About It?
At the moment, this device is only a concept and a prototype under development. There are some challenges the researchers are facing with the current version. One of them is that the shapes of the faces of the people are different. This is because the position of the transducers and the calibration may not be suitable for everyone.
During the studies on how the user will feel with these devices, eight users experienced animations along with the effects of the VR accessory. Some effects like the insect crawling were very real. Participants even involuntarily touched their faces. Yet, a few participants did not feel anything at all. The team of researchers is working on these current shortcomings.
A lot of people have been curious if this device can create the feeling of a kiss. The researcher says that this is not possible with the current software and the device is only suitable for the current small actions. So, no kissing effects for any users with this VR accessory.
A Quick Recap
The researchers from the Future Interfaces Group have come up with a facial device that replicates different feelings. These feelings cover how a user may feel when a bug lands on their face and the feeling of drinking from a spring, and it does not create a feeling of a kiss. This machine uses ultrasound to create all these effects. For now, the device is in the process of development and according to the researchers, it will get better in functionality.