You’ve likely seen or worn virtual reality headsets, which use visual cues, audio and vibration-forced feedback to provide the sensation of being somewhere else.
But what if you could feel and interact with these environments, too? Instead of simply mimicking actions like shooting a basketball or typing on a keyboard, you could physically feel the virtual ball or keys on your fingertips.
At the Human Fusions Institute, engineer Michael Fu, PhD, and his team are paving the way for augmented and virtual realities that allow for sensory and forced feedback—providing a truly immersive experience. Using electrodes placed on an individual’s hands, they’re turning to electrostimulation into haptic interfaces to pave the way for ubiquitous experiences, exclusively with wearable, portable technology.
And the possibilities are not limited to entertainment. By adding sensory feedback—such as pressure and texture on your skin—to forced feedback, which provides a sense of scale and dimension, we’re pursuing a number of applications:
- Rehabilitation: Individuals who suffer neurological injuries such as strokes, or who have conditions such as cerebral palsy, stand to benefit from virtual environments designed to improve human health.
- Education: While immersive classroom applications like the Microsoft HoloLens exist, we’re working to add electrodes that enable students to feel the objects with which they’re interacting. This added dimension of sense may facilitate effective training.
- Support for individuals with disabilities: Typically, products are designed for the general population and then adapted for use by individuals with disabilities. At the Human Fusions Institute, our research was originally developed to benefit individuals with disabilities, and we are now working to expand those benefits to the general population.
Ultimately, we envision ubiquitous, portable devices with broad value and appeal that take augmented and virtual reality to the next level.