Tactile reality of virtual world and where is it taking us?
Since the end of the 90’s, video games have been exponentially getting more and more realistic, with more and more considerable improvements to game play and feel. With these significant and rapid improvements, the gaming industry quickly grew, with graphics being consistently and thoroughly adjusted for every new content.
Nowadays, gaming has become such a pivotal component of the entertainment industry that it has largely overshadowed its past self, stepping up from beautifully blocky games like Quake Arena in 1999 to games incorporating both a Virtual and Tactile reality.
What is Tactile Reality?
Not only can you now be visually immersed into the game’s universe and move through it with your own body, but now, an additional and non-trivial sense has been attached to this process – the sense of touch.
The game’s Tactile Reality most frequently operates through the material of a special suit that ones equips, which communicates directly with your muscles through specific and directed electrical signals. Such signals can induce the feeling of someone’s hands running down your back, a breeze and more intense feelings of touch.
The major difficulty in this development, as many of the components aren’t a real novelty humanity, was to make the suit light enough to conformably carry around.
What tactile reality has stored for future?
The researchers are currently working on fully developing the sensations of heat and cold, as well as reaching a good balance in the sensation of a projectile hitting you. That’s right console gamers, soon enough you’ll have the ability to not only experience your enemies attacks visually and through the vibrations of your controller, but likewise in the parts of your body that they attack.
What comes sometimes as a surprise is that in many bio-computational fields such as this, specialists are commonly recruited from areas that don’t have any direct relation with biology or medicine, but notably from domains in engineering, robotics and physics.
Aside from the tailored appliance of Tactile Reality to the gaming industry, in the future these suits might actually be used alternatively for people who suffer from blindness.
For the sight-impaired
This isn’t a direct aim of the project at this stage, but such an appliance wouldn’t be something completely unexpected as several unrelated experiments were already conducted on people who’ve recently gone blind, in order to imitate the sense of sight through touch.
Alongside a camera, a set of of stimulating plates were attached to a certain part of the participant’s body, able to send out electrical impulses in a similar manner to the Tactile reality suits, directed towards indicating how far an object actually is. With some practice, these people were able to navigate rooms and pick up objects with the aid of these plates.
Consequently, the potential in tactile reality might just as well extend onto other parts of society, assisting us further in our quest for optimisation and entertainment! The limits are always but our imagination.
(Written by Hussein Al-Bahir)