Researchers create VR haptic feedback that uses brain stimulation

Researchers create VR haptic feedback that uses brain stimulation
If you’ve ever watched Sci-Fi, a recurring theme seems to be full-body VR. As in, Virtual Reality that looks and feels just like real life. And while something akin to that might still be very far away, researchers at the University of Chicago have unveiled a device that works on that principle.

Called the “Haptic Source-Effector”, the device is a wearable that stimulates certain regions of the brain to induce responses in the body. Electromagnetic pulses are produced in a way that elicits responses from the brain’s sensorimotor cortex.

The magnet that produces these electromagnetic pulses is moved across the wearer’s head according to the parts of the brain that need to be stimulated. Currently, the device is capable of stimulating 15 different effects and has shown impressive results on participants.

One of these effects is feeling the recoil of a projectile, which I’d assume would be very important for most VR games. Another is feeling impacts on your hands and legs. And another is an explosion near the jaw (shudders).

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Very impressive technology that has a lot of potential.

Now, I’m a strong proponent of science fiction-esque full-body VR. If I were to see it perfected during my lifetime, I’d be ecstatic. Which is why this research, to me, is one of the more exciting developments to have happened in the XR industry this year. Even more exciting than Meta making Quest OS open-source.

However, it would be very optimistic of me to think that this technology is going to be mastered within this century. And even if it were, many people would be staunchly against it because of a myriad of beliefs regarding technology overreach and body purity. Much like AI, I think this tech will also be the subject of controversy.

Which means that for the foreseeable future, we’re probably going to have to make do with today’s VR headsets. But I personally will cheer on this research from the sidelines.
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