Virtual ‘touch’ is the next big step in VR technology

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Virtual reality could be about to get a whole lot more real, thanks to the efforts of Swiss researchers which will enable users of VR technology to “feel” the non-existent objects they are picking up.Apart from adding to the fun of gamers, it may also have practical benefits for people such as medical surgeons, who train for real-life operations using virtual reality simulators.It could also help telesurgery. This is when the surgeon is in one location and the patient is in another location and being operated on by a robot surgical system controlled by the doctor. It has obvious benefits on the battlefield or in remote and inaccessible locations.Technology that makes it feel like you’re touching virtual objects[embedded content]In current virtual reality there is no sense of touch“In the virtual world, objects do not exist. You can pick up a cup or pen, but it does not feel like you’re touching them,” explains Herbert Shea of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, Switzerland.“We’ve created very small, thin and fast actuators. They are millimetre-sized capsules that use electrostatic energy to inflate and deflate.”Technology uses membranes comprising silicone and …

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