The future of VR

Adding another sense to the virtual reality experience – touch

Discovery Place Science

What if we could hug our loved ones from a million miles away? What if we could feel someone shaking our hands in virtual meetings? This is not just the work of science fiction; developers are trying to recreate the sense of touch in virtual reality (VR) using some cutting-edge technology.

One way to achieve touch in VR is through haptic technology. Haptic technology refers to technology that’s able to recreate some parts of touch sensations. This can be created through vibrating motors, moving air or liquid, or by creating friction.

You’ve probably already experienced haptic technology in your day-to-day life. Think about when you unlock your phone, that little vibration? That’s haptic feedback! Can you think of another device that uses haptic feedback?

A popular choice for creating touch in VR is to use gloves that are created for haptic technology. Using this new technology, these gloves allow users to feel what their hands are doing in VR. To achieve this effect, the gloves have very small actuators that are activated to create haptic feedback. Using these gloves with a VR headset allows users to feel more immersed in their game or activity.

A great application for this technology is creating simulations for medical procedures, such as how the United States Department of Defense has started testing this technology to simulate battlefield medical situations. Using haptic feedback gloves, they were able to experience realistic touch feedback, which allows for better training. This technology can be applied to most specialty trainings, such as mechanics and even CPR.

Technology like this has such a wide array of uses. Imagine if we were able to use this to create more accessible eBooks in braille, for simulation training for doctors and mechanics, or even to visit family from across the globe. VR technology isn’t the stuff of Ready Player One anymore, it’s closely getting to be more and more advanced.

If you had this technology, how would you use it?

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