This New Prototype Allows You to Feel in Virtual Reality



/ 3 years ago

impacto vr

Virtual reality is usually associated with seeing and hearing, and apart from the slight rumble of the gamepad while you shoot or get hit, a VR experience doesn’t offer a lot of actual physical feedback. However, it appears that a group of researchers from the  Human-Computer Interaction lab at Germany’s Hasso Plattner Institute have developed an interesting prototype that could allow us to actually feel things while we’re immersed in virtual reality. Dubbed Impacto, the technology is embedded into a band that can be worn on the arm, legs or feet, and it manages to simulate contact thanks to a custom software and a vibration engine.

Furthermore, the researchers have decided to add electrical muscle stimulation into the mix in order to achieve a realistic sense of pulling, pushing and hitting. There have been other attempts to create special gear that provides feedback in games, including a wireless gaming vest named KOR-FX. However, this new system has the potential to take things to a whole new level, mainly because it was designed to work in VR. The HCI team leader, Pedro Lopes, had a few things to say about this innovative device.

“The key idea that allows the small and light Impacto device to simulate a strong hit is that it decomposes the stimulus: it renders the tactile aspect of being hit by tapping the skin using a solenoid; it adds impact to the hit by thrusting the user’s arm backwards using electrical muscle stimulation. The device is self-contained, wireless, and small enough for wearable use, thus leaves the user unencumbered and able to walk around freely in a virtual environment. The device is of generic shape, allowing it to also be worn on legs, so as to enhance the experience of kicking, or merged into props, such as a baseball bat.”

Even though it still needs a lot more work before it can be released commercially, Impacto certainly looks promising at this point.

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