Brush your teeth in the metaverse with this new tech from CMU researchers
A team of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University wants to bring tactile sensations to the mouth in the metavers.
That’s right, with the help of students and teachers of the Future Interfaces Group within the university Institute for human-computer interactionanyone coming out in a virtual reality space could soon drink from a water fountain, brush their teeth, or even feel an insect crawling through their mouths.
It’s all thanks to an ultrasonic matrix, a technology that is able to focus the acoustic energy of the air on the lips, mouth, teeth and tongue to create sensations such as continuous bumps and vibrations without putting a device above or in the mouth. The crescent-shaped matrix can be connected to the bottom of existing virtual reality headsets in a way that allows ultrasonic transducers to focus beams of acoustic energy into the mouth.
The FIG Lab, as it is called, is not the first to study virtual reality applications for haptics, a field that studies the sense of touch and how it can be recreated using technology. Even oral haptics are not new to metavers. But second year CMU Institute of Robotics Ph.D. student Vivian Shen he said Technically that the FIG Lab is the first to take advantage of ultrasound-phase arrays for integration into virtual reality headsets for oral optics.
“Right now, really the only way to the commercial haptic is basically vibration. So your drivers will vibrate when you touch something or vibrate when you touch something or vibrate when you feel something,” Shen said. “And that’s not really what we feel in our daily lives.”
Although ultrasound matrices cannot simulate more detailed mouth sensations that cover a large amount of surface (such as kisses, for example), they do not require any additional technology to be placed in the mouth or mouth. , reducing the entry barrier. for the user and making the overall experience more comfortable. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for such approaches as well, Shen said; they have simply not been widely adopted commercially so far.
“All kinds of haptic research is necessary if we want to make virtual reality a more immersive and realistic experience,” he said.
This work, included in a recent article by Shen, a postdoctoral fellow at the CMU Craig Shultz and associate professor Chris Harrisonwon the research team award for best role in the Conference on Human Factors in Computer Systems of the Association for Computer Machineryheld earlier this month.
Creating sensations in the mouth, or any tactile sensation, in that sense, in the metavers is fun for immersive gaming experiences, but it also has the potential to enhance important simulations, Shen said. For oral haptics in particular, an example of an area that Shen predicts this technology will benefit from later are dental simulations for students or apprentices in the field. The device, he said, could teach them how to clean or treat patients without the need for real human patients.
“Our device is not expressive enough to really emulate a dental cleaning,” Shen said. “But if we are able to enable this type of haptic, then the training simulations will be much more realistic and much more useful.”
Shen thinks it’s worth exploring the opportunities that metavers create to bring people together in new ways that can be physically separated.
For now, Shen said the lab will continue to improve the ultrasound board they have been working on and invite users to come to the lab and test it for feedback. Moving forward, she and the other researchers have begun researching other haptics in the air, creating a tactile sensation for something that the user should not actually touch, such as a fan.
“We think that’s an interesting way of being able to make people feel things without having to put on a full dress or something, and have things touch their skin, which is much more restrictive.” Shen said about the lab work in the field.
And although the mention of the metavers can cause rolled eyes These days, in some corners of the Internet, Shen believes that innovation in the field is important because technology will surely have a place in the future.
“I do not agree with the idea that the metavers will become this thing that like everyone else should follow and that we will spend hours and hours and hours of our day to day. [life on it]”But it is worth exploring its potential to improve distance training and simulations and the opportunities it creates to bring people together in new ways that could be physically separated. She notes how social media changed the world by creating new ways to connect people around the world.
“Now you can send messages to anyone around the world in a matter of seconds, and you can keep in touch with friends who have left the country, and it’s really connected to the world,” he said. “And I think similarly, when virtual reality becomes more common, it will fuel that connection.”
Sophie Burkholder is a member of the 2021-2022 body of Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that combines young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by Heinz Endowments. -30-