Technology 3 min read

VR Interface Allows Users to Touch Anyone Virtually

Joyseulay | Shutterstock.com

Joyseulay | Shutterstock.com

Researchers developed a new VR interface that can send tactile signals, enabling people to touch someone through a computer screen.

Scientists have invented a new VR interface that remotely conveys tactile signals. That means you’ll be able to touch someone on your computer screen and see a reaction to that touch in real-time.

Technology has changed how we connect with other people. Now, we can see and hear our loved ones on the computer screen, regardless of the distance.

Unfortunately, the current devices have never been able to offer a one-on-one sense of touch, which is an essential part of human connection.

To be clear, various researchers have tried to bring tactile sensation into our virtual experience via electronic skins. But, these inventions were terrible at giving the human connection that touch offers.

Clunky wired electrodes made the smart skins challenging to use. Along with a delayed response, the devices also lacked two-ways feedback.

A professor of bioengineering at Northwestern University, John Rogers, said:

“Physical touch, human touch, is probably the deepest, most significant emotional connection that you can establish with a loved one or friends.”

So, Roger and his team decided to create a VR interface to enable users to reach out and virtually touch anyone. In a paper in the journal Nature, the researchers introduced a wireless and battery-free smart skin.

Using a VR Interface to Enable Physical Touch Across Long Distances

Roger and his team developed a vibrating disk that’s only a few millimeters thick and requires minimal energy to run. So, the researchers could power the actuators wirelessly via Near Field Communication.

The VR interface is divided into a series of layers of electronics sandwiched between protective silicone sheets. To function, the layer that houses the near-field communication technology activates an array of actuators.

In turn, the actuators become tuned to the different vibration frequencies. That way, they could convey a stronger or weaker sensation as required.

The miniaturized actuators; the wireless control strategies; the thin, flexible, soft construction; the soft, gentle interface with the skin; the battery-free operation—this is a collection of technology features that we don’t think have been reported in the past,” says Roger.

The resulting device looked like a light-weight, soft patch of fabric-like material that is as flexible as a wet suit. It could also maintain direct contact with the wearer’s skin as their bodies move.

Such flexible smart skin has a wide range of applications. For example, it could be used for social media entertainment, video gaming, and virtual reality.

In medicine, it could serve as sensory feedback for amputees. Also, you can use it to shake your business partners’ hands in a virtual meeting.

Read More: Facebook’s DeepFovea AI Offers Sharper VR Foveated Rendering

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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