At present the only way to be able to feel touch in virtual reality is via a pair of gloves that are often very bulky and massive, with many sensors. But that may well change thanks to this technology from a team of researchers in Hong Kong. Thus in the scientific journal Naturethe researchers detail the discovery.
A second skin for virtual reality
Called WeTac, this second skin is made of a hydrogel that sticks to the hand. Its thinness (much less than that of a pair of gloves) does not hinder the movements of its user. It contains exactly 32 electrodes, distributed at the level of the palm and fingers, and connected to a controller located in a patch 5 cm x 5 cm in diameter. You can see a demonstration of it in the video below:
Then in use, the electrodes provide tactile stimulation when the wearer interacts with an object in virtual reality. As with gloves, they are capable of producing sensations of varying intensities. You thus have the sensation of grasping an object or, on the contrary, touching another. Even further, this second skin can allow you to reproduce unpleasant (but not painful) sensations like touching a virtual cactus.
The future is actually now. Obviously we are still far from a large-scale commercialization and it is for the moment only a subject of research but it is all the same a beautiful window open on the future and on what awaits us in the future. We are still far from this technology even with Sony’s recent announcement on the PSVR2.
What is your opinion on the subject?