[L’industrie c’est fou] This virtual reality headset reproduces the feeling of touch… on the lips

How to integrate into virtual reality the haptic dimension, that is to say the sensation of touch? The world of video games is increasingly exploring this path, first with vibrating controllers (which reproduce a heartbeat, for example), but also with exoskeletons or haptic vests. Alongside this equipment, a company has decided to integrate touch into an augmented reality helmet for… the mouth.

Effect of a crawling spider

Representing one of the most sensitive parts of the body along with the fingers, the mouth was targeted by Future Interfaces Group as an ideal area to simulate the sense of touch. This American company based in Pittsburgh, in the State of Pennsylvania, approached Carnegie Mellon University to develop a wave system associated with headphones. “The proximity of the mouth to the helmet offers a significant opportunity to enable haptic effects on and in the mouth”considers Future Interfaces Group on his site.

Thanks to the technology that the company has developed, a user wearing the augmented reality headset could, for example, feel the same sensations as when drinking water from a fountain. But that’s not all. The user might also feel the legs of a spider or crawling insects on their face, or splash mud!

How does this headset work?

To arrive at the final result, the researchers combined several parameters: the strength of the effect, the location of the effect and the duration of the effect. Sensations are activated by high frequency pressure waves. It is an airborne acoustic energy on the lips and in the mouth whose wave frequency is not perceptible by the ears. These waves are emitted from a series of loudspeakers – called transducers – attached to the underside of the helmet. The waves focus on specific points in the mouth, causing a feeling of pressure. Over time, this pressure in turn creates a vibration effect.

During the demonstration, the participants were virtually immersed in a forest infested with cobwebs, in a school equipped with a water fountain as well as in a racing game. Unfortunately, this technology is still in its infancy and can only generate a small number of effects with points. For all intents and purposes, Future Interfaces Group specifies that this device therefore does not allow the reproduction of certain overly complex effects such as… kisses.

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Source: UsineNouvelle – Actualités A la une by www.usinenouvelle.com.

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