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If someone said being hacked in virtual reality can kill you I would have laughed, but that was before a group of mixed reality researchers in Germany suggested we make our virtual experiences more realistic by covering our body with electrodes.
Pedro Lopes, Sijing You, Alexandra Ion, and Patrick Baudisch from the Hasso Plattner Institut have published a paper called “Adding Force Feedback to Mixed Reality Experiences and Games using Electrical Muscle Stimulation” in the ACM CHI’18 where they suggest force feedback gloves and other traditional haptic equipment are too bulky to use out and about, and that a better way to generate opposing forces is to use the actuators already available on all of us, our muscles.
Using the same kind of electrodes as found in a TENS machine, they have created a method to generate physical forces while keeping the users’ hands free to interact unencumbered—not only with virtual objects but also with physical objects, such as props and appliances.
They demonstrate how this supports three classes of applications along the mixed-reality continuum: (1) entirely virtual objects, such as furniture with EMS friction when pushed or an EMS-based catapult game. (2) Virtual objects augmented via passive props with EMS-constraints, such as a light control panel made tangible by means of a physical cup or a balance-the-marble game with an actuated tray. (3) Augmented appliances with virtual behaviours, such as a physical thermostat dial with EMS-detents or an escape-room that repurposes lamps as levers with detents.
See that demonstrated in the video below.
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