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Love in virtual reality: researchers manage to simulate the sensation of kissing

A group of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University (United States) has discovered how to induce sensations in the user’s mouth, such as simulating a kiss or the touch of rain on the lips, in environments of virtual reality.

Virtual reality systems offer limited haptic stimulation to the user, according to the study carried out by Carnegie Mellon University researchers working within the Future Interfaces Group. These sensations are usually limited to the vibration integrated in the controls of the device.

Taking the stimuli to other parts of the body is defined as “a challenge, “especially in a practical and pleasant way for the consumer”. In this sense, the study highlights that the mouth is, just behind the fingertips, the part of the body with greater tactile sensitivity.

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For this reason, the researchers have designed a piece of hardware that incorporates ultrasonic transducers and is capable of rendering the haptic effects in the user’s mouth thanks to its software.

The report emphasizes that all components are integrated into the virtual reality headset, so the user does not need to wear or place any additional device in the room.

The study claims that the user can feel haptic sensations both on the lips and on the teeth and on the tongue. To do this, they focus the acoustic energy that transports the air towards the lips and inside the mouth, recreating sensations such as continuous vibrations and taps.

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The researchers say that, combined and coordinated with a graphic stimulus, the effects are convincing and enhance both immersion and realism. To test their hardware, they have built a series of sensory demos, which are based on experiencing falling raindrops, mud splashes, passing through cobwebs and crawling insects on the mouth.

The hardware has been implemented in an Oculus Quest 2, although the researchers stress that it can be integrated into other types of virtual reality headsets and glasses, such as Microsoft’s HoloLens. Furthermore, they claim that the Oculus are fully capable of supporting the haptic elements of their system. For the developed software, we have worked on Unity.

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The study explains that, using the locations of virtual objects and the helmet, their program creates haptic effects in relation to the object closest to the mouth, such as a drinking fountain.

The researchers assert that if an Oculus Quest 2 contains a 14 watt hour battery, using your app for an hour would consume 2.71% of your battery. In addition, they hope that thanks to a future optimization of the hardware, its consumption will decrease even more, below 0.1 watts / hour.

Source: Elcomercio

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