Designers and developers have been trying to include a way to incorporate the lower half of the face into the Virtual Reality experience. Much to their dismay, a piece that covers the mouth doesn’t seem like the experience users are looking for.
A team at Carnegie Mellon University seems to have cracked the code: ultrasound waves. The researcher at the school developed a system that goes at the lower part of the headset to give haptic feedback to your lips.
Similar to the creation of virtual buttons by hardware creators, this technology comes with an added twist. Ultrasound waves can only travel for a short distance, which, however, is more than enough for this purpose.
Utilizing destructive and constructive amplification, this device has 64 transducers arranged in a curved manner.
The ultimate aim of introducing this technology is to improve immersion. Since the tongue has a lot of sensation, the team is planning to implement ideas like wind, raindrops, and even a spider crawling across the user’s lips.
Other parts of the body, like the forearms and torso, don’t have the necessary mechanoreceptor required to feel the sensation provided by these ultrasound devices.
Immersion results will differ. Drinking fountains don’t seem so convincing without actually drinking the water. Cobwebs also don’t make a lot of sense, as it would feel weird to have that sensation only on the lips.
The team is constantly improving the product and trying to make it lighter and smaller. Researchers claim that their phased array strikes will make the product affordable and expressive.