Electric shocks for an even livelier virtual reality!

Virtual reality could take a new turn by changing the experience offered to the user. Using electrostimulation, this concept is however difficult to apply to the general public.

Despite an already substantial offer made up of different VR headsets as well as a significant number of dedicated applications, virtual reality is a technology that could still evolve a lot. Immersion is obviously at the heart of the user experience and devices designed to stimulate the senses are beginning to appear.

To cite a few examples, let’s mention the Feelreal mask intended to provide haptic and olfactory sensations or the Ambiotherm concept dedicated to the Samsung Gear VR helmet, the aim of which is to reproduce certain characteristics linked to the climate.

It is a question here of a device integrating electrostimulation, a track already explored enough consisting in stimulating the muscles of certain parts of the body using light electrical impulses. The team from the Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory of the Hasso Plattner Institute (Germany) has made this their favorite area of ​​research and has already signed the Impacto project. This allows you to feel the physical effects of a boxing match in virtual reality.

The researchers have perfected their device which can now simulate the sensation of weight when lifting an object in a virtual environment or feel the resistance of a wall on which the user places a hand. This device, which completes the VR helmet, is an eight-channel electrostimulation system coupled with patches glued to the body as well as movement sensors attached to the hands.

The tests allowed the manipulation of a virtual cube. The feeling of weight was simulated thanks to the patches located on the triceps, while that relating to the hardness of the object was obtained via electrical stimulation of the shoulder muscles. Obviously, these stimulations are synchronized with the action taking place and can involve up to four different muscle groups. By playing combinations of impulses and by acting on their duration, several other effects have been reproduced, such as contact with walls and the pressing of buttons.

The German invention is interesting on many levels, but putting it on the market would not be relevant since this solution multiplies the wiring, making everything a little too cumbersome. However, the day when all this will be possible wirelessly, there is no doubt that it will be a great success!

Here is a demonstration of the device:

Sources: Futura Sciences – Virtual-Reality.com

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