The future might be closer than you think: a new technology allows video gamers and movie audiences to experience virtual sensations.
The technology dubbed “Surround Haptics” was developed by Disney Research in Pittsburgh, and recently underwent a live demonstration at Carnegie Mellon University.
During the demo, according to sources, the creators presented a gaming chair equipped with actuators that interacted with the spine of a player seated in the chair. When playing a racing game, the player receives virtual sensations that would let him “feel” every curve, skid and speed bump that his vehicle came into contact with, as if he was really sitting in the car and not just in front of a screen.
The really exciting part about this story is the fact that the technology is relatively inexpensive and, according to the creators, open to the possibility of being implemented into virtually any environment.
The technology can easily be implemented into clothing, gloves, sports equipment and can be used to create just about any sensation or perception. People will be able to experience the feeling of flying through the air in a flight simulator, accurately play virtual sports or feel the environment surround them in a movie.
As well, the technology can be used to create sensations similar to the medical phenomenom of “phantom limbs”. It seems like it would be possible for people to feel what it would be like if they really had an extra arm, leg or hand.
With technology like this already in our midst, full blown virtual reality cannot be too far on the horizon. Couple this with the next generation of 3D home enterainment and improved motion controls, and we might have something really out of this world on our hands.