See Some Of The Stranger VR Ideas From SIGGRAPH

[Devin Coldewey] shared his experiences with some of the more unusual VR concepts on display at SIGGRAPH 2023. Some of these ideas are pretty interesting in their own right, and even if they aren’t going to actually become commercial products they give some insight into the kinds of problems that are being worked on. Read on to see if anything sparks ideas of your own.

In the area of haptics and physical feedback, Sony shared research prototypes that look like short batons in which are hidden movable weights. These weights can shift up or down on demand, altering their center of gravity. [Devin] states that these units had a mild effect on their own, but when combined with VR visuals the result was impressive. There’s a video demonstration of how they work. Continue reading “See Some Of The Stranger VR Ideas From SIGGRAPH”

An image of a powered-off device screen. Part of the screen is raised in the configuration of a mobile keyboard. A ribbon cable extends from the left of a PCB underneath the screen and the PCB extends below the bottom edge of the screen with a sticker that has a stylized manufacturer logo that may read "Wisecoco."

Electroosmotic Haptics For More Tactile Touch Devices

If you’re like us, one of the appeals of retro tech is the tactile feedback you get from real buttons. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon have developed a new method for bringing haptic feedback to touchscreen devices.Labeled exploded view of the device stackup. The individual layers from top (output) to bottom (reservoir) are labeled Silicone, PCB & Electrodes, Adhesive, Glass Fiber, PET, Adhesive, PCB & Electrodes, Adhesive, Delrin, Adhesive, and PET. It also shows the different parts as sections of Output Layer (silicone), Pumping Layer, and Reservoir Layer (Adhesive, Delrin, Adhesive, PET).

Using an array of miniaturized electroosmotic pumps, the current prototype devices offer 5 mm of displacement from a 5 mm stackup which is a significant improvement over previous technologies which required a lot more hardware than the displacement provided. When placed under a flexible screen, notifications and other user interactions like the keyboard can raise and lower as desired.

Each layer is processed by laser before assembly and the finished device is self-contained, needing only electrical connections. No need for a series of tubes carrying fluid to make it work. Interaction surfaces have been able to scale from 2-10 mm in diameter with the current work, but do appear to be fixed based on the video (below the break).

You might find applications for haptics in VR or want to build your own Haptic Smart Knob.

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Tactile Feedback In VR, No Cumbersome Gloves Or Motors Required

This clever research from the University of Chicago’s Human Computer Integration Lab demonstrates a fascinating way to let users “feel” objects in VR, without anything getting in the way of using one’s hands and fingers normally. Certainly, the picture here shows hands with a device attached to them, but look closely and you’ll see that it’s on the back of the hand only.

There’s hardware attached to the hands, yes, but only to the backs. Hands and fingers can be used entirely normally while receiving tactile feedback.

The unique device consists of a control box, wires, and some electrodes attached to different spots on the back of the hand and fingers. Carefully modulated electrical signals create tactile sensations on the front, despite originating from electrodes on the back. While this has clear applications for VR, the team thinks the concept could also have applications in rehabilitation, or prosthetics.

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DIY Haptic-Enabled VR Gun Hits All The Targets

This VR Haptic Gun by [Robert Enriquez] is the result of hacking together different off-the-shelf products and tying it all together with an ESP32 development board. The result? A gun frame that integrates a VR controller (meaning it can be tracked and used in VR) and provides mild force feedback thanks to a motor that moves with each shot.

But that’s not all! Using the WiFi capabilities of the ESP32 board, the gun also responds to signals sent by a piece of software intended to drive commercial haptics hardware. That software hooks into the VR game and sends signals over the network telling the gun what’s happening, and [Robert]’s firmware acts on those signals. In short, every time [Robert] fires the gun in VR, the one in his hand recoils in synchronization with the game events. The effect is mild, but when it comes to tactile feedback, a little can go a long way.

The fact that this kind of experimentation is easily and affordably within the reach of hobbyists is wonderful, and VR certainly has plenty of room for amateurs to break new ground, as we’ve seen with projects like low-cost haptic VR gloves.

[Robert] walks through every phase of his gun’s design, explaining how he made various square pegs fit into round holes, and provides links to parts and resources in the project’s GitHub repository. There’s a video tour embedded below the page break, but if you want to jump straight to a demonstration in Valve’s Half-Life: Alyx, here’s a link to test firing at 10:19 in.

There are a number of improvements waiting to be done, but [Robert] definitely understands the value of getting something working, even if it’s a bit rough. After all, nothing fills out a to-do list or surfaces hidden problems like a prototype. Watch everything in detail in the video tour, embedded below.

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Haptics Hack Chat With Nanoport Technology

Join us on Wednesday, April 7 at noon Pacific for the Haptics Hack Chat with Tim Szeto and Kyle Skippon!

Of all our senses, the sense of touch is perhaps the most underappreciated. We understand and accept the tragedy that attends loss of vision or hearing, and the impact on the quality of life resulting from olfactory and gustatory sensations can be severe. But for some reason, we don’t give a second thought to our sense of touch, which is indeed strange given that we are literally covered with touch sensors. That’s a bit of a shame, since touch can reveal so much about the world around us, and our emotional well-being is so tightly tied to the tactile senses that those deprived of it in infancy can be scarred for life.

Haptics is the technology of tactile feedback, which seeks to leverage the human need for tactile experiences to enrich the experience of dealing with the technological world. Haptic feedback devices are everywhere now, and have gone far beyond the simple off-balance motor used since the days when a pager was a status symbol. To help us sort out what’s new in the haptics world, Tim and Kyle from Nanoport Technology will stop by the Hack Chat. Nanoport is a company on the cutting edge of haptics, so they’ll have a wealth of details about what haptics are, where the field is going, and how you can start thinking about making touch a part of your projects.

join-hack-chatOur Hack Chats are live community events in the Hack Chat group messaging. This week we’ll be sitting down on Wednesday, April 7 at 12:00 PM Pacific time. If time zones have you tied up, we have a handy time zone converter.

Click that speech bubble to the right, and you’ll be taken directly to the Hack Chat group on You don’t have to wait until Wednesday; join whenever you want and you can see what the community is talking about.
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