20 October 2007

Toward a Better Virtual Reality

For a virtual reality environment to be convincing, it should simulate as many of the human senses as possible. Tactile feedback, known as haptics, is a key component of realistic virtual reality. Physician Mark Ombrellaro has designed a vest that transmits the sense of physical blows to the gamer wearing it.
A vest designed by doctor Mark Ombrellaro uses air pressure and feedback from computer games to deliver pneumatic thumps to the spots on players' torsos where they would have been struck were they actually on the battlefields.

The "3rd Space" vest will make its US debut in November at a price of 189 dollars. It will be launched with the first-person shooter game "Call of Duty" and a custom-made title.

"It was originally designed as a medical device," Ombrellaro told AFP while letting gamers try the vest at the E for All video game exposition in Los Angeles.

"To give medical exams via the Internet to prisoners, the elderly, those in rural communities and other isolated people."

The medical version of the vest is more sophisticated, enabling doctors sitting at their computers to prod, poke and press patients' bodies from afar and get feedback on what they are virtually feeling, according to Ombrellaro.

That model is pending approval by the US Food and Drug Administration, which wants to be assured that diagnosis made using the vests are reliable.

"You can teleconference with patients but you are missing the hands-on," the vascular surgeon said. "Being able to do that is the last step to tele-health."

A 3rd Space vest that mimics the feeling of G-forces and turning pressures for flight and car games is to be launched early next year, after Ombrellaro's company TN Games finds exciting titles to match it with.

A total body haptics suit would be even more convincing than simple vests, gloves etc. Combining total body haptics with environments that allow the player to walk in any direction--including up and down--add even more realistic sensation to games that require ambulation.

It is no accident that such gaming technology can occur as a spinoff from medical research. The pressing need for accurate telepresence for remote medical diagnosis offers similar challenges as the goal to achieve realistic game simulations.

Eventually, the combination of remote telepresence with robotic surgeons will allow complex surgeries to be done by surgeons located a significant distance from the patient. Such fine hand--machine control, with haptics technology, would have many spinoffs for not only gaming, but many areas of industry and recreation. (think of the "world's oldest profession", for example)

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Blogger Audacious Epigone said...

This is a bit more enmenshing than the Rumble Pak. The day when I will leave the 'real' world draws ever-nearer!

Sunday, 21 October, 2007  
Blogger al fin said...

Don't sign up for that destructive upload quite yet. The state of the art might put you in something closer to purgatory than paradise.

Wednesday, 24 October, 2007  

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