Virtual reality, once an innovation confined to the pages of a science fiction novel, is very much alive in the here and now. But what are some of its unused applications, and how can it really usher us into the future?
Whoever has already walked the edge of a cliff or balanced his way on the top of skyscraper knows exactly how real virtual reality can feel. The fear of taking a wrong step and falling down hundreds of metres seems overwhelming. Someone who’s afraid of heights easily meets his limits. But if we’re not influenced by all the adrenaline and take a closer look at VR, we realize how much is still missing to actually feel like reality.
Ok, you’re already able to grab things in VR and put them down again. But if you’re reaching for a book, do you actually feel the cover. Can you slide with your finger over the layered pages and feel their rough surface?’
It’s mostly the absence of touch that makes us doubt that the virtual reality is the real reality. Haptic feedback is still missing to guarantee a truly immersive experience.
There is already a lot of research being done about how to improve the way we feel in VR. The developers of VR gear have realized the vast potential of haptic feedback. But the exploration of this new territory is still in its very infancy.
VR currently outputs at a lower resolution (or pixel count) than the TVs and monitors we have in our homes. That’s one barrier to truly immersive virtual reality.
But we might not be far away from a solution. The Shanghai-based Pimax has developed 8K VR glasses. Its Kickstarter campaign has raised over $4 million dollars to usher in brighter, more expressive VR worlds. The company promises “to put reality into virtual reality“. And indeed, they’re getting pretty close. Not only does their headset boast the highest resolution ever, it also provides you with a 200° field of view, allowing you to make use of your peripheral sight.
If you walk through a garden, the smell of flowers is in the air. In a bakery you are enjoying the freshly baked bread’s scent. And when you’re standing next to a fire, you will recognize its very distinctive odour.
A sense of smell is currently absent from virtual reality, and it could revolutionize the way we watch films and play games.
That’s not to say it’s not in development, however. PC Gamer reports that efforts are underway to bring a sense of smell into VR. “One of those is add-on for VR headsets like the Oculus Rift called FeelReal. It’s up for preorder and comes with a set of even cartridges each one offering a different smell, including ocean, jungle, fire, grass, powder, flowers, and metal.”
According to the same source, it’s only a matter of time before smell is a part of the VR stable.
Excited by these developments? Let us know what you think.
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