Oculus Is Working On VR You Can Feel

Oculus Is Working On VR You Can Feel
Augmented & Virtual Reality

The technology company's next project will fool more than just the eyes and ears

Leo Lutero
  • 11 july 2016

Oculus, wholly owned by Facebook, is now working on how to bring physical sensations from the virtual world to the real one. Their prototype HapticWave device is still in very early stages but it’s already showing some potential in stimulating even the finest, directional environmental vibration, MIT Technology Review reports.

Instead of being embedded in a wearable and rendering varying degrees of vibration, the device sits on a table upon which the user will lay a hand. Technology Review compares the device’s exterior to a turntable, with a metallic disk in the middle.

It works through a network of actuators that vibrate depending on the environment being simulated. Accelerometers on the plate detect the hand’s movement, finely adjusting its own vibrations to make them more convincing.

To demonstrate the effects of the hardware, demos were built. One particular demo includes a ball bouncing inside an enclosed space. Every impact emanates a directional vibration from the device. Users can then feel the object move across the space, emanating a sort of tactile hum. The size of the ball determines the frequency of the vibration (bigger balls emanate a lower frequency feedback). With spatial audio and visual cues, the illusion is complete.

There is no way to guess if the HapticWave will ever come to market or what its final form will be.

Available controls for Oculus, the Touch, currently do not support haptic feedback or vibration, a common feature in other handheld console controllers. How a flat, rounded area of actuators fit into the picture is anyone’s guess but it sure is an interesting development for virtual reality.

The HapticWave prototype will be first formally introduced at the 2016 SIGGRAPH in Anaheim, California on July 24-48.


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