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Latest Game Expands VR Past Sound and Sight

A new virtual reality (VR) game lets players utilise senses like heat, touch and smell, that cannot be used in other VR games. The game, called The Lost Foxfire offers a concurrent fusion of different sensory streams to offer a grippingly real experience for its players.

The 10-minute gaming experience calls the senses of audition (sense of hearing), somatosensation (sense of touch), olfaction (sense of smell) and thermoception (sense of heat intensity) to action. Players of the game can rely on their senses of hearing and vision, and required to utilise their other senses like touch and smell for completing the game.

Virtual reality (VR) games generally use haptic bodysuits and headsets to imitate and intensify sensory feedback. For example, the game can create the feeling of a cold breeze on the gamer if the visuals demand so. Researchers at the Keio-NUS CUTE Center, National University of Singapore, have infused their innovation to create a set enhances the use of multisensory VR bodysuits. Players can use life-life feedback in real-time to take actions that directly affect where the gameplay leads.

The gaming system has a VR headset that is connected to a configurable multisensory VR bodysuit. The suit is capable of channelling wind, olfactory and thermal stimuli to players to help them during the game.

The configurable bodysuit is equipped with five heat modules to let players feel the heat from their front and back, the sides of their necks, and their faces. The heat sensation can be adjusted based on a player’s heat tolerance level. Upon coming across a fox character during gameplay, players will smell apples, the favourite fruit of foxes. Another instance of heat sensation is that players who get close to a fire can feel the heat of the flames. The combination of the suit and the VR headset creates quite a realistic experience for players.

Yen Ching-Chiuan, co-director of the Keio-NUS CUTE Center and an associate professor, spoke regarding the development. He revealed that The Lost Foxfire gaming setup is fully portable, and can be installed in any room. The smell and heat sensations create an immersive ramp up the immersive quotient of the gaming experience for its players. According to Ching-Chiuan, who is the project supervisor, an experience like the one offered by this game is not seen in other games.

The development team behind the game has a combination of artists, designers, technology researchers and product engineers, who put in their collective effort for the game. The 9 months was taken for conceptualising, coding and creating custom hardware, as well as handling animation and graphic designing tasks. The development team has filed a patent for the configurable multisensory bodysuit’s technology.

The Lost Foxfire was developed as an experimental gaming experience. Yet, the technology and simulation methods used for it can have several other potential uses. It is a development that can set the standard for upcoming immersive experiences, and can also be utilised for creating unique training simulations for fire-safety demonstration. Players can get a feel of emergencies without facing their dangers.

The game was showcased at the Tokyo Game Show 2019.

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