Virtual reality could be the next big thing in the gaming world. And while VR displays and headsets are getting more and more sophisticated, many are forgetting perhaps the biggest feature VR will need to succeed — haptic feedback. [Pedro Lopes], [Alexandra Ion] and [Prof. Patric Baudisch] from the Hasso Plattner Institute is hoping to change that, with a project called Impacto: Simulating Physical Impact by Combining Tactile with Electrical Muscle Stimulation.
We’ve covered lots of haptic feedback devices over the past few years — some use mini gyros to simulate resistance, others blow air on you, but this is the first time we’ve seen one that combines muscle stimulation to really cause a physical effect.
They’re using an Oculus rift, and a Microsoft Kinect to perform the research. For their demonstration they use a basic boxing game that allows the user to feel the computer’s punches — but don’t worry, it doesn’t hit that hard!
The Impacto bracelet has a small solenoid on it that triggers when it is “hit” in the virtual world. This is something you can very easily feel — but to make it even more realistic, they’ve attached it to a muscle stimulation device which is worn on the bicep, causing an actual recoil on impact. In case you’ve never had an opportunity to play around with these before, it uses high voltage pulses to tense your muscles.
This results in a whole new level of haptic feedback; just take a look.