Scientists at the University of Warwick and York University are developing virtual reality devices that are capable of stimulating all five senses with a high degree of realism. The research is part of the Towards Real Virtuality project, which is creating a fully immersive virtual reality experience in which users are unable to tell whether it is real or not.
Teams from York and Warwick are working with experts from the universities of Bangor, Bradford, and Brighton to develop a Virtual Cocoon, a virtual reality device that will simulate all of the senses more realistically than any other device. The Virtual Cocoon will be a headset that incorporates specially developed electronics and computing capabilities. The researchers say the device could be used to unlock the full potential of Real Virtuality in a variety of fields. A mock-up of the Virtual Cocoon is on display at the Pioneers 09 Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council showcase event in London. "Virtual reality projects have typically only focused on one or two of the five senses--usually sight and hearing," says York professor David Howard, the project's lead scientist. "We're not aware of any other research group anywhere else in the world doing what we plan to do." Howard says smell will be generated using a new technique from researchers at Warwick that will deliver a pre-determined smell on demand, and because taste and smell are so closely related, providing a texture sensation related to something being smelled will create the sensation of taste. A key goal of the project is to optimize the way all five senses interact.
From "The First Virtual Reality Technology to Let You See, Hear, Smell, Taste and Touch"
Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (03/04/09) Stern, Dan
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