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Full-body touch sensations in VR will likely need special suits like Skinterface
Now that consumers have general access to high-quality VR content by way of the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive, eye-tracking technology seems to be the next step in the evolution of VR. But what about touch input, as in feeling the virtual wind against your skin or how a virtual object feels when you grab it with your hand? One group of developers is looking into just that, and has created a way to generate full-body tactile feedback with what they call Skinterface.
Created by Ka Kei Suen, Charlotte Furet, George Wright, and Andre McQueen from London's Royal College of Art, Skinterface is essentially a skinsuit covered with a matrix of small nodes (actuators) that use sound to move tiny magnets underneath those nodes. When each node is fed a specific sound, the node will send out a waveform that vibrates the magnet. Different waveforms will generate different vibrations.
"Each moving magnet node is independent, and has several modes of operation," the team states in a video. "Complex waveforms can be fed into the output of these actuators while the direction of the movement can be separately controlled and varied, allowing for acute control of touch intensity, form, temperature, and sensation."
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