FaceHaptics: stimulating senses in virtual reality

FaceHaptics: stimulating senses in virtual reality

Engineers from Germany and Canada created the additional device to the headset virtual reality that conveys the sensation of interacting with the virtual world by air supply heat and water, and by touching the face. Software sinhroniziruete these impacts with events in the virtual space, so that the level of immersively increases, say the authors of the article, which will be presented at the conference CHI 2020.



Engineers under the leadership of Ernst Kroupa (Ernst Kruijff) from the University of applied Sciences Bonn-Rhein-Sieg has created a VR device acting on the user a variety of incentives, but it does not require additional decorating around the space with a variety of mechanisms. The basis they took the VR-helmet Oculus Rift, and it established a special manipulator with four degrees of freedom, which is fastened to the top of the helmet and falls to just below the chin. The manipulator is mounted on a pair of servomotors and linear actuators, nozzle for sprinkling water, a heater, fan and discharger, which concerns a person.



The crane can operate in two modes: centered on the user, that is, to maintain their position as individuals or relative to the virtual world, that is, to rotate in the direction opposite to the rotation of the head. Engineers have developed a virtual simulation in which the user walks in the nature, and a variety of effects synchronized with the items on the manipulator: wind simulated by a fan, the touch leaves the simulated tap with a soft tip that slides on a face, a simulation provides a solar heater, and wind also may be supplemented by spraying of small drops that mimic the spray of the waterfall.



The authors conducted two studies on volunteers to test their hypothesis that their device enhances the feeling of immersion in VR. In the first study they tested whether users can correctly perceive the direction of the wind. The study involved 16 volunteers, and were also used various modes of operation of the helmet. The results showed that the error of determining the direction of the wind amounted to 7.25 degrees in the regime with a freely rotatable head and adjustable direction of air flow.


In the second study, the authors tested the total effect of all incentives on immersion and emotional response of users. During the study, the subjects had two massages walk through a virtual rainforest for three minutes with 16 different effects. The difference between sessions was the use of incentives from the paddle. The results showed that key indicators, such as sense of immersion, believability and enjoyment was higher in the case of additional incentives.


The researchers acknowledge that in the current form of their invention is very uncomfortable, because he has a fairly large mass, which leads to a shift of the center of gravity forward. However, they claim that volunteer this fact was not very critical. As a solution they propose to fix the manipulator on the helmet and on the body. Also, in addition to mechanical effects on the face and body of engineers propose the use of electric stimuli.



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