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Carnegie Mellon Researches Ways to Mix Touch with VR

Virtual Reality (VR) creates brilliant immersive visual experiences but remain an alternate dimension, while the user experience is a little out of place. The area of interaction between physical and virtual forms (haptics) is undergoing research. However, Carnegie Mellon University’s new research aims to break the barrier and incorporate stimulating touch in VR.

Several strings are attached from the tech to the hand and fingers of the user to help stimulate the feeling of touching objects. While explaining how the mechanism works, the university explained with examples how the strings lock when the user’s hand is in front of a virtual wall and the gadget stimulates the feeling of touching the wall. With the help of the strings, people can sense resistance when pushing an object, feel the contours of a virtual sculpture, or even high five a virtual character.

The device sits on the shoulder and leverages the spring-loaded strings to maintain low cost, consume low battery power and reduce weight. Comparatively, other haptic methods using strings have motors to control them. The university researchers want an affordable and unobtrusive system, much different from the existing ones.

The tech may cost about $50 when produced in mass. It weighs less than 10 ounces, and upon user testing, seems to be more realistic than other methods.

According to CMU’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute Chris Harrison, Elements like virtual characters, furniture and walls are important in developing immersive virtual worlds. However, traditional VR systems do as little as vibrating hand controllers.

Amidst the pandemic, VR has turned out to be a potential response for people who are grounded inside four walls. The impact on the economy has also been drastic, leading to a slowdown in the technology sectors.

While some initiatives achieved success, the most noticeable one was the recent Helsinki VR gig which had over half a million virtual attendees. Speaking on the problem between the conventional thought on the hardware user interface and the potential for escapism, Kevin Roose said that after weeks of testing, the future of lifelike digital interactions may not be discovered inside computerised goggles and VR headsets but will rather be developed over the less flashy mechanisms being used.

However, some people are focussed on a more optimistic approach. Forbes writer Joe Parlock takes a more game-focused approach and says that the comparison is out of place. He says that VR is a hobby and it is very close to mainstream gaming and doesn’t require random goals as compared to flat gaming to be successful. The Helsinki show was a good experience because no headset was required to partake in the event. Also, through Virtual Helsinki, which is the digital twin of the Finnish capital, the upcoming initiatives might find a more advanced platform.

This facilitates an intriguing analysis when diving into the CMU research. Anything which boosts or maintains usability and restricts heaviness has been a target of the industry of wearable technology for a while. Anybody who gets the work done may be the major winner.

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