Virtual Reality, or “VR”, technology aims to create the most immersive and comprehensive experience possible for users, but current VR technology is still mainly limited to audio-visual experiences.
In a project that proves that Design is the missing link between Art and Science, a team of graduate students at the Royal College of Art (RCA) in London are developing the next step in VR evolution. Using the principles of sound, the students have created a working prototype for a suit that allows you actually feel virtual reality on your skin.
Made in our Image
Aptly named “Skinterface”, this highly technical suit was inspired by the basics of our own biology. The suit is studded with magnetic nodes that receive information from the VR environment in the same way nerve cells present in the skin receive information from our physical environment.
Just like our nerves relay sensory information to our brains, Skinterface’s nodes may be synced to 3D cameras to relay information on the user’s movement to the VR environment. The nodes then process and compile such sensory information, and produce physical sensations that mimic touch.
Full Body Rumble Pak
The sensors that cover the suit leverage sound waves in the form of vibration to approximate and recreate a particular sensation directly on the user’s skin. The nodes are also capable of vibrating at different frequencies, which allows the suit to more naturally simulate variations in pressure and intensity. The result is the sensation of actually being physically present in the VR environment– from head to toe.
While Skinterface is still in the developmental stages and the VR world is still largely centered around gaming, the technology that the project has introduced has far-reaching implications for entertainment as whole, how we will communicate over physical differences in the future, and how we approach rehabilitation in medicine.