For all you virtual reality (VR) fanatics out there, the next level of immersion is already in the works. A team of researchers recently demoed a haptic feedback system that could actually simulate the feeling of bumping into walls and buttons.
The mechanism for this, developed by researchers from the Hasso-Plattner-Institut in Potsdam uses electric impulses to trigger your muscles to give the impression of bumping into something.
Researchers essentially placed medical-grade muscle simulators in a backpack and attached the electrodes to forearms and biceps. A minor electric shock activates the muscles, making users feel like they’ve hit a wall.
The whole setup consists of a Samsung GearVR and sensors for tracking the position of your hands. A laptop in a backpack handles the electrocution mechanism.
Initial testing found some issues, as it should, which revealed that the feedback was too strong in some cases. Some testers claim that rather than bumping into a wall, it felt like their arms were being pulled back by a magnet.
Engadget reports that eventually, the researchers managed to find a balance between appropriate feedback and a sense of realism.
Of course, the researchers insist that the shocks are completely harmless, and we certainly hope they’re right. Whether you trust the mechanism or not is entirely up to you.