How real-life sensations in virtual reality can deepen the experience
- Virtual reality has become more immersive thanks to new technologies that provide the sense of touch and smell.
- A new VFR headset is supposed to explode if you lose a game.
- Researchers recently published a research paper describing how aroma can be used for virtual wine tasting.
Your experiences in virtual reality can become closer to reality.
Palmer Luckey, who is sometimes credited with creating modern virtual reality, claims to have built a VR headset that would kill a user if they died in the game they’re playing. It is part of a growing number of tools aimed at extending the experience of virtual reality into the physical world.
“Virtual reality systems are already full of feedback, but they are largely limited to audio and video channels,” Danny Parks, vice president of technology for virtual reality company Trigger XR, told Lifewire in an email interview. “You can move your head and see your perspective change or press a button and hear a new sound.”
VR equipment manufacturers are constantly striving to make the virtual experience more realistic, but some would say Loki is taking things too far with his latest project. Luckey gained notoriety for selling VR headset manufacturer Oculus, a company he sold to Facebook in 2014 for $2 billion.
It will likely be some time before we see something that radically changes the way we feel about things in virtual environments.
On his blog, Luckey shows off a VR headset that contains three explosives. He wrote in a post that the headset goes off if you miss the VR game you’re playing.
“The idea of connecting your real life to your virtual avatar has always fascinated me – you instantly raise the stakes to the limit and force people to fundamentally rethink how they interact with the virtual world and the players within it,” wrote Loki. “Advanced graphics may make the game look more realistic, but only the threat of dire consequences can make the game feel real to you and everyone else in the game.”
The feeling of virtual reality
Luckey said he has no plans to make a commercial version of the killer VR headset, but that several other products may be available soon to make virtual reality experiences more realistic. One of the hot spots is called “haptic feedback,” where the sense of touch is used to make virtual reality more realistic.
“There are many systems that generate ultrasonic fields to simulate touch, and others use gloves or vibrating jackets to provide mechanical feedback,” Parks said. “It will likely be some time before we see something that fundamentally changes the way we feel about things in virtual environments.”
You can now buy haptic feedback gloves, but they are bulky and expensive. For example, HaptX makes tactile gloves that cost $4,500.
To make things more realistic in virtual reality, there is even a full body suit, called a Teslasuit, that simulates the forces acting on your body. So, for example, if you are shot in a virtual reality game, the suit will record the hit and translate it into pressure on your body.
Lucas Rodriguez San Pedro, chief technology officer of enterprise virtual reality platform provider Immerse, said in an email interview with Lifewire that haptic tools can be a useful training. He said realistic feedback, such as that provided by tactile gloves, or even full-body tactile suits, could help properly simulate real-life conditions when operating machinery.
“Only visual VR interactions can provide a high level of accuracy in simulating the experience,” he added. “But without the physical reactions, it can lead to unrealistic interactions.”
Your nose might also get its own virtual reality sensors to let you sniff your way through the metaverse. There are VR headset accessories in development that can emit smell, water and heat, Mike Pope, vice president of experience and innovation at technology company Sogeti, said via email.
“For example, virtual reality headsets used to train insurance adjusting experts to assess property damage can simulate the smell of a fire-damaged home, allowing for more immersive—and useful—training sessions to prepare the officer for real-life scenarios,” he added. .
Virtual scents can also be fun. Swedish researchers recently published a research paper describing how aromas can add realism to the wine-tasting game. In the game, the participant moves in a virtual wine cellar, picks up virtual wine glasses containing different types of wine and guesses the aromas. The small scent machine is connected to the console of the VR system, and when the player lifts the glass, it releases a scent.
“In the same way that a regular computer game becomes more difficult the better the player becomes; the smell game can also challenge players who already have a sensitive nose,” Jonas Olofsson, one of the authors of the research paper said in a press release. “This means that the aroma machine can be used to train wine tasters or perfumers.”
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