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Researchers Push the Boundaries of Virtual Reality

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Researchers add a sense of touch to Virtual Reality

Researcher Balakrishnan Prabhakaran (right) moves a haptic device while his colleague, Xiaohu Guo, tracks the corresponding movement on the computer screen.

Credit: The University of Texas at Dallas

University of Texas at Dallas (UT Dallas) researchers have developed virtual reality technology that creates an environment that interacts with users' sense of sight, hearing, and touch.

They are developing a multimedia system that uses multiple three-dimensional (3D) cameras to create avatars of humans in two different places, and then places them in the same virtual space where they can interact.

The researchers note the technology can be applied to physical therapists who work with patients in other locations.

"It is one thing for a patient to say he or she did their exercises, but it is another to watch them in action, feel the force exerted, be able to correct them on the spot, and get immediate response," says UT Dallas professor Balakrishnan Prabhakaran. If both doctor and patient have haptic devices, the force applied by each can be sent to the other person.

UT Dallas professor Xiaohu Guo is refining techniques to allow the data between haptic devices to be transmitted over the network more efficiently, and creating 3D images of original movements in real time. Professor Roozbeh Jafari has built wearable computers for monitoring different aspects of human health, behavior, and thought, and is developing sensors for the project.

From University of Texas at Dallas (TX)
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