Feeling Objects and Walls With $35 Gadget When Used With VR Goggles

A new device developed at Carnegie Mellon University lets you feel obstacles and objects when you are in a virtual reality experience. They use multiple strings attached to the hand and fingers to simulate the feel of obstacles and heavy objects. This brings us closer to a real Star Trek holodeck experience.

By locking the strings when the user’s hand is near a virtual wall, for instance, the device simulates the sense of touching the wall. Similarly, the string mechanism enables people to feel the contours of a virtual sculpture, sense resistance when they push on a piece of furniture or even give a high five to a virtual character.

Cathy Fang, who will graduate from CMU next month with a joint degree in mechanical engineering and human-computer interaction, said the shoulder-mounted device takes advantage of spring-loaded strings to reduce weight, consume less battery power and keep costs low.

“Elements such as walls, furniture and virtual characters are key to building immersive virtual worlds, and yet contemporary VR systems do little more than vibrate hand controllers,” said Chris Harrison, assistant professor in CMU’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII). User evaluation of the multistring device, as reported by co-authors Harrison, Fang, Robotics Institute engineer Matthew Dworman and HCII doctoral student Yang Zhang, found it was more realistic than other haptic techniques.

“I think the experience creates surprises, such as when you interact with a railing and can wrap your fingers around it,” Fang said. “It’s also fun to explore the feel of irregular objects, such as a statue.”

SOURCES- Carnegie Mellon University
Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com