VR Researchers Enable Kissing In Virtual Reality
In a news story that went viral last week, researchers from Carnegie Mellon University may have figured out a quite simple way to create haptic feedback for the face in virtual reality – including kissing, and sucking, or the brush of a hand or hair across one’s face. The team of VR researchers made clever use of ultrasound technology to come up with an attachment to a Quest 2 headset that rests on the top of the nose. The row of transducers are able to recreate various tactile sensations on the face, without anything actually touching it.
The researchers upgraded what appears to be a Meta Quest 2 headset with an array of ultrasonic transducers that are all focused on the user’s mouth, and it works without the need for additional accessories, or other hardware set up around the wearer. We’ve seen ultrasonic transducers used to levitate and move around tiny particles by blasting them with powerful sound waves before, but in this application, they create the feeling of touch on the user’s lips, teeth, and even their tongue while their mouth is open.
The transducers can do more than just simulate a gentle touch. By pulsing them in specific patterns, they can recreate the feeling of an object sliding or swiping across the lips, or persistent vibrations, such as the continuous splashing of water when leaning down to sip from a virtual drinking fountain.
The researchers have come up with other custom virtual reality experiences that demonstrate how their mouth haptics hardware can introduce more realism, including a hike through a spooky forest where spider webs can be felt across the face, a race where the user can feel the wind in their face, and even virtual eating experiences where food and drinks can be felt inside the mouth. But if and when someone runs with this idea and commercializes the mouth haptics hardware, we’re undoubtedly going to see the world’s first virtual reality kissing booth realized, among other experiences the researchers are probably wisely tip-toeing around.
Now There Is A Dating App For VR Avatars
Not sure the point of this, but it’s interesting enough to report on. I remember back in the early days of the internet, when chatrooms were filled with usernames that had neither an avatar nor a real profile picture. People, would of course still meet up on the basis of ‘relationships’ formed in these places, and no doubt in most cases there was a huge jarring cognitive dissonance caused by the disconnect between the picture of your date built up in your imagination, and the sudden revealing of the reality. This sets to be repeated in VR chat, where people are represented by avatars that even intended to bear some resemblance to the actual person, still rarely does so. I imagine the disconnect could be even more unsettling, given that you can interact in a much more physical way in VR, from dancing or playing table tennis, to perhaps even soon kissing (see above). This hasnt’ put off one company from embracing avatar dating, however. ‘Flirtual’ is a dating app that allows users to connect with their avatars so they can meet up and ‘date’ in virtual reality.
Rather than being its own self-contained social VR app, Flirtual is actually a non-VR app (currently available on Android, Windows, and browsers) which serves to match users who can then decide on their own where and how to meet in VR. The creators say most of the app’s VR socializing is presently happening in VRChat.
The Flirtual app itself will be familiar to anyone who has used a modern online dating app, with a few caveats.
Instead of pictures of themselves, Flirtual asks users to upload photos of their avatar (or avatars). The sign-up process involves typical questions like what you’re interested in, and what kind of person you’re looking to match with. And while there’s the expected ‘Sexual Orientation’ field, you’ll find ‘Experimenting in VR’ among a range of more common options. Also specific to VR, Flirtual asks which VR equipment you own and what your favorite social VR apps are.
Read More : Tinder For Virtual Reality
Featured image by Etienne Giradet