Sheets of tiny bubbles could bring a sense of touch to virtual reality | Science News

Support Science Journalism

Science News is a nonprofit.

Support us by subscribing now.


News in Brief

Sheets of tiny bubbles could bring a sense of touch to virtual reality

Thin, shape-shifting films may one day make for more real-world experiences

By
3:55pm, April 6, 2018
silicone sleeves

FEELS REAL  New silicone sleeves studded with inflatable air bubbles could one day make virtual reality gaming a more immersive experience. 

PHOENIX — High-tech attire that would give users the sensation of being pushed, pinched or poked could someday make virtual realities feel as real as they look.

Today’s VR systems rely heavily on goggle-generated visual displays to transport users to simulated worlds. But superthin, shape-shifting sheets worn as sleeves or built into other garments could provide gamers with tactile feedback that makes virtual realities more immersive.

The new device, described April 5 at the Materials Research Society spring meeting, contains a grid of tiny, inflatable bubbles, sandwiched between two soft, stretchy silicone films. When one of these bubble wrap–like sheets is placed against a user’s skin, inflating different air pockets by different amounts at different speeds can make a gamer feel like she’s been grabbed around the wrist or patted on the back.

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now.
Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content