One of the many keys to making virtual reality believable is being able to bring the sense of touch into the virtual world. Adding additional senses into the mix is a trick that’s been used by consumer electronics makers for years but in the virtual world, how exactly do you go about that?
Using a prop like a gun controller would work in shooters but what about titles that require the manipulation of multiple items? You can’t just load your desk up with all sorts of objects; aside from the clutter, it’d put serious strain on your computer just to track everything.
Researchers from Microsoft, USC, and the University of Waterloo have developed a couple of clever techniques – body warping and world warping – that essentially trick your brain into believing a single object is actually multiple objects or that they're in a different location. The two illusions, both of which require help from a Kinect camera, can be combined to create what’s called hybrid warping.
It sounds a bit complicated but the video above does a great job of explaining what’s happening.
These techniques could really make playing a game like Minecraft in virtual reality far more immersive although I’m not sure how they would translate to other games or experiences.
Microsoft plans to publish a paper on the matter – Haptic Retargeting: Dynamic Repurposing of Passive Haptics for Enhanced Virtual Reality Experiences – at the CHI 2016 conference that runs from May 7 through the 12th in San Jose.