Researchers of Northwestern University have introduced a new thin, wireless system that can add a sense of touch to any virtual reality (VR) experience, which allows you to touch each other over long-distance communication. The thin, wireless, battery-free device developed is known as “epidermal VR”.
The device consists of a programmable array of miniature vibrating actuators, which are embedded into thin, soft, flexible 15-centimeter-by-15-centimeter silicone polymer that adheres to the skin without tape or straps. With the help of this device, people can also feel the touch of each other during video call, while playing games and things running on the screen can also be felt. This technology will not only revolutionaries entertainment but also help in clinical medicine (prosthetics) and social interactions.
How does it work?
The device is based on stretchable electronics, wireless power transfer, miniaturized actuators and wearable. It will complement virtual and augmented reality by adding a sense of touch to them. AR/VR has utilized the ear and eyes senses but with this new technology, the touch sense is explored.
It consist of distributed array of 32 millimeter sized actuators which are individually programmable and generate touch sensation on the skin. Each actuator resonates most strongly at 200 cycles per second, where the skin exhibits maximum sensitivity. This patch wirelessly connects to smartphone or tablet. As the device communicates through near-field communication (NFC) protocols, thus it is battery-free lightweight system that can be worn.
When a user touches the touchscreen, that pattern of touch transmits to the patch. If the user draws an “X” pattern on the touchscreen, for example, the devices produce a sensory pattern, simultaneously and in real-time, in the shape of an “X” through the vibratory interface to the skin.
While video interactions, friends and family can virtual touch each other without any time delay
Researchers believe, it as a starting phase, they also plan to exploit different types of actuators, which can produce heating and stretching sensations. For example, a person might be able to sense how hot a cup of coffee is through prosthetic fingertips.