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Virtual Reality You Can Touch

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virtual cylinder object

Real or virtual? A virtual object, in this case a white cylinder, is projected into the actual environment and can be felt using a sensor rod.

Credit: Matthias Harders / ETH Zurich

ETH Zurich researchers have developed a method that can produce virtual copies of real objects, which can be "touched" and sent over the Internet. The goal of the Immersence project was to develop new methods for virtual haptic interaction. A subproject led by ETH Zurich researcher Matthias Harders focused on interaction between people and virtual objects.

The virtual object system involves a three-dimensional scanner recording an image of an object, while a user simultaneously senses the object using a haptic device. In order for the user to be able to see and feel the virtual copy of the object, special equipment is needed, including data goggles with a monitor onto which the virtual object is projected, and a sensor rod with small motors. Software calculates when the virtual object and the sensor rod meet, and then sends a signal to the motors in the rod, braking the user's movement and simulating resistance.

"Our approach can be viewed as an extension of photography," Harders says.

View a video of virtual haptic interaction developed at ETH Zurich's Computer Vision Lab.

From ETH Life
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