VR technology can trick our vision and hearing, but it will be smart clothing that will make these virtual experiences feel real.
The next few years will be dominated by advances in virtual reality technology, with Facebook’s Occulus Rift leading the charge, but for a true immersive experience you want to not only see and hear the world around you, but feel it on your skin and interact with it with your hands.
People tend to interact with their world through touch, and so tech firms are already building gloves that will let users reach, pick up, and touch their surroundings.
However, we do not only interact with the world at arms’ length – we feel our surroundings on our skin – whether that is the temperature of the environment, or actual objects hitting our bodies. If you are playing a game set in a forest, it is great that you can explore the environment by looking around and picking up objects – but what if you could feel the branches brushing against your chest or the rain bouncing off your skin – that is true immersion.
Netherlands-based Bean Open Lab have already developed a smart shirt that can mimic various feelings on the skin and works with a variety of games, and that is the first stage – but the true virtual reality is when that shirt expands to a full suit and is integrated with gloves, a VR headset, and a 360 degree treadmill.
The future is on its way.