This VR Demo Uses Mid-Air Haptics To Make Affected More Immersive

by Jamie Feltham • February 21st, 2019

UK-based Ultrahaptics thinks it has the key to haptic feedback in VR. This week you can try it out for yourself.

The company partnered with Fallen Planet Studios to integrate its mid-air haptics technology into VR horror title, Affected: The Visit. The experience is showing at the ImmotionVR center in Cabot Circus, Bristol until the end of February. It’s the first UK showing for the demo, which has previously done tours in the US. Check it out in the trailer below.

Ultrahatpics’ solution uses ultrasound to apply feedback to the user’s hands. It’s previously been showcased as means of controlling other devices, but it could take on new meaning inside VR. Imagine paying a visit to Affected’s virtual house of horrors and not just seeing every jump scare but feeling it too. Or, y’know, something not as massively terrifying.

Haptics is a crucial area of R&D for VR right now. Current systems bring our hands into VR with full control, but they don’t help you feel the experience. Hands float through walls and surfaces and there’s no resistance to, say, pushing a button. Ultrahaptics solution is one of many potential methods to solve this problem, though all of them seem far off. Currently, you have to hold your hand over a platform laid on a surface in front of you. It’s a little similar to early versions of Leap Motion before it started integrating itself into headsets.

We’re not sure when Ultrahaptics might be ready for consumer-level VR (if ever), but the studio did raise $23 million in funding in early 2017. It’s a very promising concept.

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