While it can’t be denied that virtual reality technology is pretty impressive, there are still ways it can improve. Other than areas such as graphics and refresh rates, one method of making VR more immersive would be for the user to physically feel like they were experiencing it. Now, Samsung may have the device that can really put you in the VR moment.
Unveiled at the South by Southwest tech, film and music festival in Austin, Texas, earlier this week, the Entrim 4D headphones are the product of Samsung’s Creative Lab, its “ideas incubator” where employees can take time away from their full-time jobs to develop innovative products.
While the Entrims look like a normal set of headphones and produce sound like a standard pair, they do have one unique feature: they send an electrical signal deep into the inner ear, tricking the brain into thinking you’re moving.
The low-voltage electrical current is directed at the ear’s vestibular system – nerves that provide information about motion, equilibrium, and spatial orientation to the brain. This process can make you feel like you’re moving in certain direction, and has been used in the past to help restore balance in stroke victims.
Those who have tried the Entrims say you can’t feel any electric shocks inside your ear while wearing them, thankfully, and they really do have an effect in VR games. In the driving demo that has been used to show off the headphones’ abilities, users claim that you actually feel as if you’re moving around a track, making for a more realistic experience.
As you might expect, some people have said that the headphones can exacerbate the feelings of nausea and dizziness that often come with using VR headsets. But the intensity can be adjusted, and Samsung says that more advanced, future versions could actually reduce the motion sickness that many virtual reality users experience.