Scientists Create VR Tech That Lets You Feel Spiders Crawl On Your Lips
VR already takes horror to a new level by immersing you into whatever nightmare the devs have concocted, whether it's the abandoned facilities of Boneworks overtaken by inhumane robots or the fungal monster Jeff in Half-Life: Alyx who only notices you if you make noise. But new tech from Carnegie Mellon University's Future Interfaces Group could make it a lot more unsettling.
As reported by PCGamer, they've managed to add ultrasonic transducers to the Oculus Quest 2, pointing it toward the mouth to elicit realistic sensations that only heighten VR's immersiveness. You can use this to feel a game's wind, swiping across the lips, or, unfortunately, a spider crawling along your mouth, trying to wedge its way in.
In the demo video embedded below, the user walks through a haunted forest riddled with cobwebs. They have to push through these webs to get out, not only risking a spider crawling on their face, but getting that unnerving sensation of a web touching their lips.
You can see them noticeably disturbed, but it ramps up when one of the spiders leaps at the user's face, trying to climb into their mouth. They later get revenge, splattering a spider with a flaregun, but the bloody green goo that spurts out hits their face, and they feel that on their lips too.
But horror is just one avenue this could take – the video also shows the user drinking from a water fountain, taking a sip of hot coffee like a beaten-down detective in a noir thriller, and smoking a cigarette after to wash it down. In conjunction with other developing haptic feedbacks like the new chemical tech that lets you feel cold and heat, this could be used to make VR even less disconnected from our own world.
The scientists who worked on this new mouth haptic tech conducted surveys to see how it affected immersion to which the majority of subjects answered positively, saying that it was more believable and engrossing. Just don't give Valve any ideas for its next VR outing – we don't need the sensation of a headcrab grappling our face to feel too realistic.
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