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Virtual Reality App Makes Haptics as Immersive as Visuals

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Flow of haptic media using the haptic plugin, time, and presentation mode.

Disney Research has developed a 360-degree virtual reality application that enables users to enhance their experience by adding customized haptic effects that can be triggered by user movements, biofeedback, or timelines.

Credit: Disney Research

Disney Research has developed VR360HD, a 360-degree virtual reality (VR) application and a haptic chair that will enable users to enhance their virtual experience with customizable full-body effects.

The haptic plugin utilizes a library of "feel effects" that can simulate sensations such as falling rain or a beating heart.

VR360HD was developed using a consumer VR headset and a unique haptic chair featuring a grid of six vibrotactile actuators and two subwoofers. The grid creates localized sensations in the back, and subwoofers shake two different regions of the body to mimic the feeling of motion. Users can adjust the effects' intensity, enabling the system to recreate the experience of a light sprinkle as well as a heavy downpour.

"Virtual reality has seen a renaissance in recent years as advancements in computer graphics, computing platforms, and the seamless flow of information between hardware and software have come together in a powerful way," says Disney researcher Ali Israr. "Our team is working to make VR haptic sensations just as rich as the 360-degree visual media now available."

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