Immersion integrating ultrahaptics technology with hololens holoanatomy.
One of the limitations of current virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR) systems is that while you can visualize and hear the unreal, you can’t feel it, smell it, or taste it. We have three other main senses in addition to sight and hearing, and until they’re all supported, VR and MR will remain limited experiences.
One of the key technologies for supporting our other senses is haptics, the use of vibration or other kinds of force feedback to engage the sense of touch. The resistance in a game steering wheel is one specific kind of haptic feedback system, for example. Microsoft’s HoloLens MR system would of course benefit from haptic feedback, and that’s exactly what French company Immersion is working on, as Reality News reports.
The basic idea is pretty simple. Rather than just seeing an object superimposed on the real world via HoloLens, users would be able to actually reach out and touch it. That would not only significantly enhance the realism of the experience, it would also make manipulating MR objects more precise.
Immersion’s haptic feedback system integrates sound-based Ultrahaptics technology with HoloLens to essentially “project” haptic sensations onto a user’s hands. Ultrahaptics describes its technology as, “From invisible buttons and dials that you feel when you need them, through to tangible interfaces that track your hand, this elegant and simple technology was created using complex mathematics yet is based on human nature.”
The applications are endless. Surgeons could use such a system to not just visualize, but actually feel a patient’s anatomy while performing delicate surgery. Engineers could manipulate objects with far greater precision. And the fields of gaming and entertainment would be opened wide for richer and more immersive experiences.
There’s no word yet on when such a system might make it to market. However, as with everything else in VR and MR today, it doesn’t seem to take very long for ideas to make their way from a concept to a product that’s ready to ship, and so it might not be too long before we’re reaching out and touching things in mixed reality.