What helps make Virtual Reality even more realistic? Haptic feedback. Without simulating the feeling of pressure in your hands, a lot of VR experiences would fall very flat indeed. However, a rumble pack in a controller can only take you so far. For the next level of immersion, the next level of haptic feedback products is needed. Some are coming soon; others are just crazy concepts. All would make VR even better.
Last week we had a glimpse of Oculus gloves for VR, courtesy of Mark Zuckerberg. They look pretty impressive, but they are not the only ones out there. There have been countless Kickstarter campaigns, announcements and leaks going as far back as 2015. We even covered a preliminary version seen in Shanghai at the Mobile Developer Conference. How well these gloves work varies from company to company, but we can be very sure to see a commercial release sooner rather than later. At this rate, there will be more gloves options than there are headsets.
CES is always full of crazy technology, and this year we saw the introduction of haptic feedback boots. They looked clunky and were very much in its nascent stages. However, if the kinks can be worked out, this could end up being an invaluable addition to any VR setup. Locomotion is still a major stumbling block in creating truly immersive VR, and being able to actually simulate moving your feet around could go a long way to solving that problem.
This is where it starts getting a little weird. Smell-o-vision is one of those long-standing jokes in entertainment that everyone agrees would be interesting, but terrible in any realistic setting. No-one seems to have told the porn industry, however, because they’re going ahead with smell-based VR anyway. Thankfully there are other companies that are working on something less awful than sex-scents. Whether you want it or not, smell VR is coming, so you might as well be on board with it. Just make sure to not play Resident Evil 7 with it on.
Full Body Touch
Last year we saw some concept art for a full-VR suit which looked like something from Tron. This might be a little much, but for the high-level hobbyists, this could be that little bit that makes all the difference. However, if full-body VR suits become commercially available and readily available, we might well have an issue of people never leaving their virtual worlds. This might finally be the point that technology goes too far. Or we could be fine, and there is nothing to worry about at all. There is no way of knowing until it happens.