Textures in Haptics for VR with Omnipulse

A team from Cornell University aim to bring a new approach to haptic feedback technology.

As the rise in virtual reality (VR) has happened, so has the opportunity to develop new methods for increasing immersion. From wind machines and smell pods to moving chairs, many things have been tried, but one of the most popular has been to stimulate the sense of touch using haptic feedback. A team ar Cornell University are aiming to advance the science of haptic technology for a better, more immersive experience.

Current haptic technology is limited in that it mostly uses vibration to provide basic feedback, related to the vibration units found in controllers like PlayStation’s Dual Shock controllers. As such, it is unable to express a range of textures and sensations to the user. New technology out of Cornell University’s Organics Robotics Lab called Omnipulse.

The current version of the Omnipulse is a flexible rubber sheet which uses a pneumatic system to provide tactile feedback. The fact that it is thin rubber means it is able to be easily added in to several existing controllers like the Oculus Touch controllers or even controller gloves and haptic suits.

Though the Omnipulse is still in very early prototype stages, demonstrations have shown that it is capable of replicating sensations such as hitting an object with a hammer, the recoil of a gun, punching things and shooting a harmless water gun. The use of pneumatics means that the Omnipulse can replicate solid objects and soft, squishy textures.

It isn’t currently know if the creators of Omnipulse are aiming to have the technology integrated into existing controllers, and therefore provide their technology to companies like Oculus, HTC and Sony or if they are aiming to create their own Omnipulse equipped series of peripherals.

VRFocus will bring you further news on Omnipulse and other emerging haptic technologies.

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