We might not be able to plug into our brains and jump into the
Matrix just yet, but researchers at the Hasso-Plattner-Institut
in Potsdam have come up with a way to use the rest of the
body to make current VR systems that much more immersive.
The research team recently revealed the below video, in which a
prototype kit uses electrical muscle stimulation along a user’s
arms to create what it claims is realistic haptic feedback
without the need for a controller. It creates counterforce in
the user’s hands when they touch objects in VR and simulates
weight by actuating specific muscles. To create tension in a
user’s bicep as they lift a heavy object, for example, the
system actuates the triceps.
You can see the results in the video above and, although we
haven’t tried the system for ourselves, it looks promising.
Touching an electric wall causes the user’s hand to jolt
backwards, while pushing objects requires heft and force we’re
not used to applying inside the virtual world.
In the documentation, the team claims that pressure to the
fingertips can even stop hands passing through objects, which
is an unfortunate side effect of current VR solutions. However
by effectively pulling the arm away to stop the user’s hand
from advancing, the system creatues an unatural feeling, as if
you were being pulled away by a magnet, not pressing up…