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GoatLord

Haptic feedback in VR

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What's the best solution for allowing a player in VR to experience touch? I've thought of a couple of solutions. In the past, I've been heavily criticized for some of my more outlandish technological ideas, so I would implore you to view this as pure speculation, and understand that I'm fully aware that some or all of these ideas may be completely bogus, unfeasible or unmarketable. In my opinion, it makes for great thought experiments to consider all options, even ones that are excessively peculiar or even physically questionable.

1) A thin leotard-like one piece that you wear while playing. Any time you touch something in the simulation (or experience say, pressure, heat, cold, etc.), you would you feel a slight vibratory sensation, which adjusts itself to different types of materials and situations from within the sim. The problem is, unless you want to look like a complete gimp, your head would probably be exposed, and not having feedback in that area might be slightly immersion breaking.

2) A bracelet, or possibly gloves, that can create a wireless connection to your nerves and essentially trick you into feeling different sensations throughout your body. This sort of technology would be significantly more complex and it's difficult to imagine it being able to automatically account for anyone wearing it. It might be that some sort of mapping of the nervous system has to be executed for new users, who let the program know how effective or accurate the feedback is.

3) Wetware that can "hack" the brain and trick the user into feeling a variety of sensations depending on the sim. In the past I've talked about pills that could contain the necessary nano computations, which would be convenient since it could potentially pass the blood/brain barrier and find its way into the brain once the stomach acids break it down. However, the general public might find edible computers deeply unsettling, while an injection or implant might seem invasive. Something this intimate would need to be administered in a way that's commercially viable, which may require something even more radical, such as a nano lotion, nano spores (ala the hyptothetical PS9, which many of you no doubt recall from the promotional era of the PS2), or even a consumable drink. These are exceedingly far fetched solutions that could potentially work, but it really depends on how attitudes toward biological computation change during the next few decades. It may be that as transhumanism takes off, these solutions will seem less nutty as time progresses.

4) The VR hardware, which will likely transform from a bulky headset to a pair of transparent glasses, creates a wireless connection to the brain which tricks the nervous system in a manner similar to option 2. This seems, at least in the short term, the most likely solution, since it is non invasive, and requires no additional peripheral (unlike option 2).

5) It may be that, because we experience a variety of convincing sensory experiences during dream states, that the glasses are to be worn before going to sleep or napping, or perhaps in addition to hacking your nervous system they would also induce sleep. A dream state that is hijacked by hardware sounds very Matrix-esque and might be a way to have all-encompassing experiences without having to map out your nervous system in order to generate haptic feedback.

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Some sort of brain hack would be cool, very cyberpunk like ("wetware"). But it sounds far too dangerous and possibly exploitable. Such a possibility though would be somewhat interesting, just to see how it would fare.

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Hacking the brain through hardware is dangerous indeed. There is far too much potential for advertisers, the police and the government to use it for nefarious purposes. At the same time, it would be a great away to achieve full immersion VR.

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GoatLord said:

Hacking the brain through hardware is dangerous indeed. There is far too much potential for advertisers, the police and the government to use it for nefarious purposes. At the same time, it would be a great away to achieve full immersion VR.


Even to just think the type of testing involved to even get to that point...

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I think that as brain-chips get better, more and nore of this would be possible. I hadn't realized that they had made it this far yet, but not only can a chip be implanted in the brain to allow quadriplegic people to control a computer, but can even be used to bypass their spine to send signals to hands. This is a really cool, interesting video:


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The question is, would a consumer be interested in that? It seems too invasive. Even if we're talking about something stamping a practically invisible chip onto your hand or arm, I question if that's how people want to experience gaming in the future.

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My thought was more-so that the path is there for something perhaps wireless like you were thinking.

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GoatLord said:

The question is, would a consumer be interested in that? It seems too invasive. Even if we're talking about something stamping a practically invisible chip onto your hand or arm, I question if that's how people want to experience gaming in the future.


There would have to be a well established trust of such technology before ever introducing gaming variants. But say brain implants gradually become a norm to solve various medical / related issues and that brain chip becomes advanced enough to become a multi purpose tool, then those people already with the chip implanted would definitely be more open to try gaming applications with it.

Early adopters will express their opinion and if it's great feedback then more people will listen, corporates will look into marketing it and gradually trust will be built. 10 years forward and barely anyone blinks at the thought that a sensation manipulating chip is implanted in their brain. Afterall they would already be using it for medical, educational and porn related functions long before gaming.

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I don't know if it has to be in the brain. If the tech is powerful enough, then it could potentially be implanted anywhere in the body. Brain implant seems to imply that it can only work if it's very close to the source, and that seems like something that will be outdated in the future. That's why an implant in the hand or arm seems plausible. I imagine that it would have properties that allow the hardware to update itself, with software updates and downloads coming from the cloud and being downloaded wirelessly into the implant.

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