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Software Technology Entertainment Hardware

New Approach To Virtual Reality Shocks You Into Believing Walls Are Real (vice.com) 59

A team of researchers from Germany's Hasso-Plattner Institute is trying to find an effective way to trick the mind into thinking a virtual object or wall is real. They have developed a new device that "sends little electric shocks to sensors on your arms that stimulate your muscles whenever you press against a wall or try to lift a heavy object in virtual reality," reports Motherboard. From the report: The team's main goal was to create this illusion as cheaply as possible. Their contraption, seen in the video above, consists of little more than an electric muscle stimulator stuffed in a backpack, the sensors, and a Samsung GearVR device accompanied by motion trackers. In other words, if you've been turned off by the clunky headsets of the contemporary VR experience, this probably won't do much to win you over.
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New Approach To Virtual Reality Shocks You Into Believing Walls Are Real

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  • Yeah I can see this being used to stimulate other muscles when they bump into softer objects under more interesting simulations real soon. I doubt that'll "turn off" too many VR users.
  • I want the wall hack code so I can get the high score.

  • With a real exit bag, to augment the sensation (or lack there of) of a "simulated" VR exit bag experience.

    Be sure to read the fine print in the EULA.
  • by Zobeid ( 314469 ) on Monday April 17, 2017 @10:13PM (#54254139)

    But you still can't lean against that virtual wall, or set a real object down on that virtual table -- things I've attempted while using the Vive, with predictably humorous results.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    stimulate your muscles whenever you press against a wall or try to lift a heavy object in virtual reality,"

    "Virtual mime".

  • But there's no arguing about the shocks being real.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Didn't they already make this product for dogs?

      Invisible fence or something?

      So if it is good enough for your dog, let's do it for people too? Or something?

    • by Vairon ( 17314 ) on Tuesday April 18, 2017 @12:31AM (#54254499)

      That depends on what you consider a shock. The original article never used the word shock. Shock is a term that vice.com decided to use. If you read the original article http://plopes.org/project/hapt... [plopes.org] it says the electrical stimulations are not painful. Their devices simply stimulate certain muscles to simulate the weight or hardness of different objects.

      • by Rei ( 128717 )

        Agreed that it's a bad description. But the original also points out the weaknesses of their approach. It's a lot easier to give a third party the view of the person in the VR experience being perfectly constrained by walls than it is to give the person themselves that, for two reasons: one, protracted stimulation (aka they're feeling a wall) draws attention to the stimulation itself (tingling), and two, because it's done by activating opposing muscle groups, the force feels inverted, like someone's pulling

  • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Monday April 17, 2017 @11:17PM (#54254299)
    Side effects include users developing an aversion to picking up objects or touching walls in real life.
  • by Jason1729 ( 561790 ) on Monday April 17, 2017 @11:17PM (#54254301)
    The team's main goal was to create this illusion as cheaply as possible.

    Do it properly in R&D. Then see if you can do it cheaper or otherwise reduce costs through scale once you know what you're doing. By focusing too much on cost upfront, you will miss important avenues of research.

    These people have already failed.
    • These people have already failed.

      Get a grip. Not all R&D is about creating something perfect. Not all results of R&D can be scaled and cheapened due to production.

      An incredibly large portion of R&D is focused on cost. Producing something that is priced out of the market on arrival for something which has a goal of being in every household is what would be a failure.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The headline sounds suspiciously like an interrogation technique.

  • ...because they're always thinking about walls while women are always thinking about ceilings.
  • There's an entire laptop running the virtual game itself inside the backpack. The text here is misleading. Most VR isn't going to require you to lug the entire computer running the simulation around with you. The electrical shock things themselves, which are the development here, aren't that bulky.
  • One of the more interesting problems I've encountered with the Vive is. . . What happens when you push your face into a wall?

    First I have to say, this is *extremely* counter-intuitive to do at first. Pushing my face into a wall really doesn't come naturally at all.

    In some games (or not-exactly-games, like realities.io) you can see what's on the other side of the wall, and you can get glimpses of things you aren't really meant to see -- which can be fun and useful. In other games the display just fades to

  • Good'ol Les - used to mark his virtual office using masking tape. But electroshock -- oh what an idea.

    For you younger folk: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

  • The sticker shock of buying a VR setup is so great that no one will respond to the "tiny" shocks that indicate wall contact.

Simplicity does not precede complexity, but follows it.

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