VR For The 5 Senses
At a recent lecture, John Tocci touched upon Virtual Reality (VR). This topic really resonated with one of the attendees. They later tweeted at us to ask about non-visual VR products. We spoke with our Software Support/Programmer, Pavel Savine, to get the latest information. He encouraged us and our Twitter follower to check out the following products that engaged senses other than sight.
The most commonly seen product, one might not necessarily associate with VR, is noise-cancelling headphones. The most popular brands include Bose and Beats both of which are used more often for listening to music. But imagine watching a movie with these headphones, you’ll quickly become immersed in the action as you won’t be distracted by surrounding noises such as your phone ringing or the neighbor’s dog barking. Now take this and imagine a residential building that’s being constructed. As you explore a 3D model with the headphones on, you could hear the dog bark as you turn the handle or the fan whirring overhead. It will be a lot easier for you to get lost in the virtual world and visualize yourself in a place that has yet to be built.
For touch there are VR gloves, which simulate pressure such as when you pick up an object or touch a wall. The Hands Omni haptic gloves, developed by a team of students at Rice University, use air pressure to simulate feeling against your hand whereas in the past most haptic systems relied on a vibration motor. Let’s imagine again the above residential building, this time as you turn the door handle you can feel it against your fingertips turning what isn’t really there into a physical object for you to interact with. For more information on these VR gloves, check out this article by Popular Science.
To go along with touch, there is also the Virtuix Omni a stationary treadmill like platform targeted for gaming purposes. The system allows you to move throughout the virtual world by physically moving your feet instead of using a controller. To prevent you from falling over, a halo surrounds your waist. Once again let’s go back to our imaginary residential building. Now that you’ve opened the door you can walk from one room to the next or head outside to see some of the neighborhood. At this point you’ll be so immersed, that you might believe you’re inside the new residential unit.
Finally in this list, there is a Kickstarter product that appeals to multiple senses. The product is FEELREAL a multisensory VR mask. It includes a wide range of smells, simulated effects of wind, heat or water, and vibrations to more fully immerse you in your environment. With this product you’d be able to feel the wind from the fan above your heads or the mist from the sprinklers outside in the summertime. Though this product is not available yet, you can check out their page for a video on its capabilities.
There are a ton of virtual reality technologies out there. The kind of architectural experience one is looking for will determine which products to use.