Soon, a virtual reality device that lets you see, hear, smell, taste and touch

March 5th, 2009 - 12:51 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, March 5 (ANI): Scientists are developing a virtual reality device that stimulates simultaneously all five senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, and, touch, with a high degree of realism.

The device, which is the first virtual reality headset, is being made by scientists from the Universities of York and Warwick in the UK, with funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), in a project called Towards Real Virtuality.

Real Virtuality is a term coined by the project team to highlight their aim of providing a real experience in which all senses are stimulated in such a way that the user has a fully immersive perceptual experience, during which he/she cannot tell whether or not it is real.

Teams at York and Warwick now aim to link up with experts at the Universities of Bangor, Bradford and Brighton to develop the Virtual Cocoon a new real virtuality device that can stimulate all five senses much more realistically than any other current or prospective device.

For the user, the Virtual Cocoon will consist of a headset incorporating specially developed electronics and computing capabilities.

It could help unlock the full potential benefits of real virtuality in fields such as education, business and environmental protection.

According to Professor David Howard of the University of York, lead scientist on the initiative, Virtual Reality projects have typically only focused on one or two of the five senses usually sight and hearing. Were not aware of any other research group anywhere else in the world doing what we plan to do.

Smell will be generated electronically via a new technique being pioneered by Alan Chalmers and his team at Warwick which will deliver a pre-determined smell recipe on-demand, he said.

Taste and smell are closely linked but we intend to provide a texture sensation relating to something being in the mouth. Tactile devices will provide touch, he added.

A key objective will be to optimise the way all five senses interact, as in real life.

The team also aims to make the Virtual Cocoon much lighter, more comfortable and less expensive than existing devices, as a result of the improved computing and electronics they develop.

In addition to the technical development of the Virtual Cocoon, we aim to closely evaluate the full, far-reaching economic and other implications of more widespread application of Real Virtuality technologies for society as a whole, said Professor Howard. (ANI)

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