New 'Marionette' Device Will Enable VR Users to Touch and Feel Objects

Virtual reality technology is there; however, there are some reasons why it has not yet been fully understood by people.

One reason is that while today’s systems can create immersive visual experiences, they don’t appeal to all of our five senses – in this case, in particular, we can’t touch and feel objects.

However, that seems to change soon. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have developed a new device that can simulate the sensation of obstacles, and heavy objects by attaching multiple ropes to hands.



How does it work?

How does it work?

Wireality is a worn-out VR haptic system prototype, that uses retractable wires that can be locked to precisely stop individual hand joints in 3D space. This allows for tangible interactions with objects such as walls, furniture, and railings.

Here’s how it works: let’s say you have your VR glasses on and walk up to a wall.

The mechanism locks the strings of the device when your hand is close to the wall and you immediately feel like you are really touching the wall when in reality your hand is hovering just above the air.

In addition, the string mechanism allows people to feel the contours of a virtual sculpture and feel the resistance when pushing objects. You can even give a virtual character a five, which means your hand will never be left hanging.



Minimal weight and low costs.

Minimal weight and low costs

The team used spring-loaded retractors to make the device possible. These are similar to those on key chains or ID badges, and with the added ratchet mechanism, the springs keep the strings taut.

In order to engage the lock, only a small amount of electricity is needed, which makes the system energy efficient.

With this system, the device’s pawls are engaged in a sequence whenever the user is near the virtual barrier. When the person withdraws their hand, the latches disengage.

This gives the device many advantages since the spring cords reduce weight, consume little battery power, and keep costs low.

The whole device weighs less than 10 ounces, and is rather inexpensive since, according to the researchers, a mass-produced version could cost less than $ 50.

Such a device could be extremely useful in games and virtual reality experiences that involve interactions with physical objects, such as mazes and virtual museums. Wouldn’t such technology be spectacular during these days of lockdown that made us climb the real walls?