No real VR without touch

Text / VR dimension Sun Sunshi

Recently, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology released the "White Paper 2016 Virtual Reality Industry Development." A section of the report has drawn special attention: In the perception of virtual reality, there are many studies on visual synthesis, less attention to hearing and touch, lack of authenticity and real-time, and devices based on smell and taste have not yet been implemented. Commercialization.

The current VR company has done a lot of work in the visual field, the picture is more and more realistic, and the visual impact it brings is also getting stronger, but we do also ignore an important problem: the eyes can see but the body actually No feedback was received, which greatly reduced our true feelings in the virtual world.

No real VR without touch

Imagine a situation where a blind person can touch the smartphone screen to bring up the topographic map of the room and help her to go to a less familiar corner; a soldier can touch the newly born daughter through FaceTime 6000 miles away Little finger.

This is exactly what Facebook is looking for: The company hopes to build a "teletransport" by 2025.

According to the “Commercial Insiders” report, Mike Schroepfer, Facebokk’s chief technology officer, told the outside world that he hopes the Oculus Rift can become such a device: “Let you go anywhere you want, with any People are not restricted by the region."

If you want to achieve such a goal, it is necessary to solve the tactile problems in the VR experience. An important pillar of the VR experience is touch, and the current VR helmets, no matter how dazzling, are still far from the true immersive experience.

Touch is a major element of science fiction VR, but in reality, VR touch seems to have become an optional add-on, not a key part of the overall experience. If only the eyes can be immersed in VR, the user can't really feel immersive.

At present, VR videos and games have become more mature in the entire industry, but in essence, the pleasure they bring, and the joy they get from exquisite movies and games, are not too great. Big difference.

The CNET reporter did this experience: One night he was sitting in the Gear VR sitting in the living room, letting himself into a virtual aquarium, and then fell asleep. When he woke up, he found that he was swimming around. Fish, but he couldn't reach out and grabbed them. He only turned left and right. When he took Gear VR off, the whole feeling was just good, but unfortunately, he couldn't touch the inside objects in the virtual reality scene. Not only that, but also some pain after removing Gear VR. This is because when he focuses his eyes on the objects inside, he actually sees the pixels that are close to the eyes.

Bringing proper “perceptual input” into the virtual world is the biggest obstacle to the development of this field in the future. Both Samsung and Oculus have already hinted that it will take several years for virtual reality to reach the ideal state that consumers want. There are many reasons for this. First, virtual reality devices need to be paired with very good application software. Second, virtual reality requires better display screens. Virtual reality requires better hardware and input devices. Virtual reality requires cross-platform compatibility.

Startup company in action

Lamsaptics, a start-up company that incubates the University of Southern California Viterbi startup garage, hopes to make this vision possible.

Lamsaptics was founded by Alireza Imani and Mehdi Korjani, a postdoctoral researcher in the Electrical Engineering Department of Xie Ming. The company is using ultrasound arrays and learning-based prediction algorithms to create an "air" touch for AR and VR applications.

"Our idea is that information can be conducted through different senses," Imani said. He is a doctoral student at the University of Southern California Whitby College, and his research direction is high speed integrated circuits.

Touch is the next frontier in the development of VR. Companies such as Cyber ​​Glove, Virtual Realities, and Ultrahaptics have already launched products on the market, but Imani and Korjani believe that these products have limitations.

"In most existing systems, the touch is lame," Immani said. "Most products require you to wear a device, and there are some places that you can't touch - for example, let you wear gloves. This feeling is very unnatural."

He and Koganj believe that AR/VR needs a complex touch. They are making a portable prototype tool that uses ultrasound, pressure fields, high-frequency sound waves, and ultrasound transducers to stimulate your hand's neurons. The principle is similar to using ultrasound to create high-resolution images in medicine.

"Roughly speaking, this is similar to bats using sound waves for ecological positioning, and radars use electromagnetic waves to find aircraft positions," Imani said.

The two believe that they will be able to find some complex patterns that create different tactile sensations in your hands, such as the feel of different fabrics, the feeling of different shapes.

"When designing algorithms, we are guided by human experience - how humans perceive shapes, textures, and so on, rather than perceive pre-designed patterns," Immani said.

The first Lamsaptics tool that they are going to show publicly is a virtual "Highfive", which is a high-level event through FaceTime. This allows them to know how much power the technology can generate to build different feelings. The tool will connect via a USB port to a PC or tablet.

The founders of Lamsaptics hope to record all human feelings in order to provide users with a more advanced experience. Their vision is to allow users to program for different feelings.

"The key is to improve the human experience. For example, let blind people see objects and see if there is anything sharp in the room," Imani said.

As for the commercial use of this technology, it can be used to improve the gaming experience, or theme parks like Disneyland can use it to add a new dimension to the story.

“The sense of touch is extremely important for human life,” Imani said. “The mother’s caress is very important to the baby’s psychological development and social development, affecting the years after the baby is born. We control the objects through visual and tactile feedback, and They interact. This is an important part of us as a human being."

"The idea of ​​introducing touch into the digital world makes sense," said Ashish Soni, founder and director of the start-up garage. “Lamsaptics is the kind of company that our garage likes to incubate: The idea of ​​the founder of the technology makes sense, and he wants to change the way we experience the world”

Lamsaptics recently received a $50,000 NSF Innovation Corps innovation fund to facilitate their meeting with potential customers across the United States and develop business models.

Take a look at these cool VR tactile products

Tesla Studios

Tesla Studios currently envisions two models of Teslasuit, with slightly different numbers and functions of sensors. The first is The Pioneer, which has 16 separate tactile feedback points all over the body. The second is the Prodigy, which has 52 tactile feedback points. In addition, Teslasuit uses a neoprene rubber as the main material, and the sensor part is also waterproofed so that it can be washed.

No real VR without touch

The Teslasuit suit relies mainly on neuromuscular electrical stimulation technology. It is also used in medical, electrotherapy and professional sports competitions to provide tactile stimulation and temperature control. Teslasuit uses a gentle and slight electronic pulse to stimulate the body, passing through the touch of a variety of different feelings. In order to complete the stand-up action, Teslasuit is also equipped with T-Belt, which includes a control chip, Bluetooth device and battery. The battery can drive the suit for 4 days.

Teslasuit promises to create "a series of tactile sensations" by switching between different tactile feedback points throughout the body. Using different intensity and duration of pulse stimulation, it can imitate any sensory experience, interacting with virtual objects from the virtual world to the effects of bullets and explosives, and even the weather within the game can also be transformed into electrical stimulation through optional The temperature control module provides additional effects.

No real VR without touch

Teslasuit may also be equipped with a touch editor/playback software that can create pre-programmed stimulus programs as well as virtual reality paintball games. In addition to the game, there is a "virtual meeting application" that allows you to be touched or touched by the person in the game.

There is no vibration or noise in the Teslasuit suit, and Tesla Studios says it does not look clunky and can be worn like normal clothing. It fully supports wireless communication technology and is expected to be compatible with existing virtual reality helmets Oculus Rift, popular game consoles and other computers, tablet computers and smart phones. Tesla Studios believes that this technology has a wide range of potential applications, including games, virtual dating, health, education, sports/fitness, science, engineering, psychology, and real-life simulation.

Manus VR

Manus VR is not the only product used in the field of virtual reality to control, but it can be said that it is an earlier and basic design is doing a better job.

No real VR without touch

In the demo, Manus VR is used with HTC Vive. When we wear Vive on the head, I can see that my arm is completely synchronized with the picture, but my right arm seems to be longer than the left arm. Some, it seems a little strange. After restarting the device, Manus VR can be synchronized with my hands with Vive's cooperation.

Mantus VR CEO Witteveen said that the entire team is currently developing some kind of bracelet-type sensor instead of gloves, and even HTC and Valve can share information in the future.

No real VR without touch

However, the ultimate form will be exactly what kind of, and now Manus VR company is not yet sure, and basically can confirm the ultimate purpose of the product is to track the user's arm in the VR field of action. The Manus VR team plans to ship the VR gloves in December, but it will not be a retail version of the consumer. It will still be sold as a developer version.

At the E3 game show, Manus VR showed a game called Pillow Willow, which fully demonstrated the capabilities of Manus VR. The demo version of the Manus VR ties the complex device to the user's small arm, but also passes several wires to connect to the user's finger through a vibration motor. Stumpel said that the final form of the product will integrate more sensors while maintaining low latency performance. "We should have a custom wireless protocol. Low latency is a very important parameter in the field of virtual reality. After all, no one wants to see a slow motion appearing on the screen."

Sometimes, when I try to pick up an object in the game, the haptic feedback system does detect that I am picking things up, and the Manus VR gloves are equipped with a vibrating motor that can achieve some of the same feelings. Manus VR gloves are made of breathable material, so in the future, different specifications will be designed for different user's hands.

“We have designed the use of this glove is very easy to adjust, there are already design appearance and sensor location marked, the two will be combined very perfect.” Stumpel said that in the future there will be more games compatible with Manus VR gloves, You can even include popular games like Job Simulator.

It is reported that a pair of such Manus VR gloves requires us to spend an additional 250 US dollars (about 1650 yuan) to start, and life is about 8 hours, through USB charging. Although there are still some pitfalls, Manus VR gloves allow us to take the right direction in virtual reality accessories. (Kathy, Jinlu participate in compiling)

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