Although virtual reality technology can be seen and heard by users in computer-generated environments, the extent to which these worlds are perceived is still very limited,media reported. However, this may be about to change due to the so-called “skin VR” system.
Developed by scientists at Northwestern University and City University of Hong Kong, the experimental technique combines a thin, soft, flexible and slightly sticky elastic appendicide that temporarily adheres to the user’s skin.
The researchers embedded a set of wireless-powered, wirelessly controlled disk-shaped electronic actuators in the patch. Currently, a 15 x 15 cm (5.9 in) prototype contains 32 such devices. The researchers hope that as the actuators become smaller, it is possible to wrap more devices into a given area.
The idea is that when a epidermal VR patch is activated (such as a VR game), some actuators vibrate on the wearer’s skin, stimulating the person’s sense of touch in a particular area. Each actuator is designed to produce the largest resonance at the rate of 200 cycles per second, which is the frequency at which the human skin exhibits maximum sensitivity.
Using the touch screen interface on a smartphone or tablet, one person can also remotely control another person’s patch in real time. For example, if The Sender tracks X with his finger on its screen, The Recipient will feel that X is tracked to the skin below the patch. Once further developed, it is hoped that this feature will allow video chat participants to make virtual touches through their devices. In addition, the system has been used to allow lower arm amputees to measure the grip of their bionic hands.
The researchers first installed pressure sensors on the fingertips of Garrett Anderson’s prosthetic leg, and then placed a epidermal VR patch on the remaining part of his arm. When he then grabs the object with his hand, the sensor activates the actuator in the patch accordingly – the greater the pressure applied by the finger, the greater the actuator vibration. This made him feel the firmness of his hand in his arm.
“We used our knowledge of telescopic electronics and radio power transmission to integrate advanced architectures to form a large number of components, including microactues, designed to be skin-related wearables,” said John A. Rogers, a professor at Northwestern Airlines. “The study was conducted with Professor Huang Yonggang. “We think this is a good starting point for natural extension stoain to whole system and hundreds of discrete programmable actuators. “
The paper on the study was recently published in the journal Nature.