Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University have developed a way to mimic mouth sensations and feedback through haptics for VR headsets. This breakthrough undoubtedly adds to an inevitable future of deeper immersion.
The research group at CMU, known as Future Interfaces Group, now has access to a mouth haptic device that attaches to a VR headset. This new device transmits frequencies higher than the human ear can pick up on. Ultrasonic transducers produce the frequencies and the device focuses them in order to create pressure sensations.
Future Interfaces Group focuses on the mouth as a test due to how sensitive the nerves can be. The pressure sensations simulate various motions and behaviours of a human mouth.
In addition to finalizing their paper, Future Interfaces Group provides a video, highlighting the device. As explained, the group looked into several effects including single impulse, pulse strings, swipes across the X and Y axis, and persistent vibrations.
Working with a group of volunteers, the group tested a VR headset with the mouth haptics. This pairing requires no additional hardware other than the device fixed to the headset. The volunteers were able to interact with various objects and feel the responses. Some volunteers felt the sensation of a spider jumping on their mouths. Others tested the sensation of sipping on coffee or smoking a cigarette.
Ultimately, Future Interfaces Group wants mouth haptics to become seamlessly integrated into more VR projects.
“We want it to be drag-and-drop haptics. How it works in [user interface design] right now is you can drag and drop colour on objects, drag and drop materials and textures and change the scene through very simple UI commands,” says Shen. “We made an animation library that’s a drag-and-drop haptic node, so you can literally drag this haptic node onto things in scenes, like a water fountain stream or a bug that jumps onto your face.”
While the study was successful for many, some users did not experience any sensations when wearing the headset. Factors may include calibration, facial structures, and sensitivity.
As the metaverse continues to grow, innovative breakthrough such as these is encouraged. Deeper immersion will only add those extra layers users look for when using VR/AR applications.
Image credit: Future Interfaces Group