Virtual reality has been with us for many years, however it is only recently that it really got popular among end consumers, with equipment such as Oculus Rift glasses or even homemade solutions such as Google Cardboard glasses for cell phones.
However, virtual reality introduces us to fantasy worlds where we can observe everything around us as if we were really there. But nevertheless one of the problems that simulation has, is when interacting with virtual objects. If you touch something, try to grab it, or get hit in the virtual world, your real body doesn’t feel anything, and that somewhat limits the experience.
To break with this limitation a bit, a team of researchers from the Hasso institute in Germany led by Pedro Lopes, Alexandra Ion, and Patrick Baudisch have developed Impacto, a system of wireless sensors that stick to the body and allow the user to feel tactile feedback on their body when they are hit in the virtual world.
Impact works by connecting a few solenoids to different parts of the body. These small motors produce a small blow to the person’s skin when a collision occurs in the virtual world; to make the feeling more realistic, various electrodes They are connected to the user’s muscles to transmit signals that generate a contraction in them. That way, for example, if you are playing boxing and they hit you in the arm, the system makes the solenoid hits your arm and the electrodes make the forearm go back, just as a hit would feel in the real world (obviously on a smaller scale).
Impact so far sports simulations such as boxing, soccer or baseball have been tested where it is seen that it operates very well. And although this is a developing system, we can already imagine an evolution of it in the form of wearable clothing pieces that will allow us to experience virtual reality in a much more inverse way.
Would you like to see a project like Impact coming to your home soon?
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