The Metaverse is a virtual world, one to which we will connect using a series of devices that will make us think that we are really inside it, interacting with all its elements. It will be like actually teleporting to a whole new world through virtual reality glasses and other complements that will allow us to interact with it.
In addition, it should offer us all the features of our real life anticipating this, eliminating physical barriers and as far as possible, also economic.
Virtual worlds are nothing new, and there are a large number of them, especially in the video game industry. You create a character or avatar, and you enter that world to live adventures through your computer. However, the metaverse does not seek to be a fantasy world, but a kind of alternative reality in which we can do the same things we do today outside the home, but without leaving the room.
These worlds will not only be based on virtual reality, but also on augmented and extended reality.
Some technologists argue that this environment should be as similar as possible to our world, through the so-called digital twins which are formed representatively at 1:1 scale.
When talking about Virtual Reality (VR), science fiction movies like 'Minority Report' come to mind. However, the truth is that nowadays it is a technology that is fully mimicked in our daily lives. Video games, medicine, education... Virtual Reality is here to stay. But what exactly does it consist of?
WHAT IS VIRTUAL REALITY?
Virtual Reality (VR) is an environment of real-looking scenes and objects -generated by computer technology- that creates in the user the sensation of being immersed in it. This environment is viewed through a device known as Virtual Reality glasses or helmet. Thanks to VR, we can immerse ourselves in video games as if we were the characters themselves, learn how to operate a heart or improve the quality of sports training to obtain maximum performance.
This, which may seem extremely futuristic, is not as recent in origin as we might think. In fact, many consider that one of the first Virtual Reality devices was the so-called Sensorama, a machine with a built-in seat that played 3D movies, emanated smells and generated vibrations to make the experience as vivid as possible. The invention dates back to no more and no less than the mid-1950s. From there, technological and software development in the following years brought with it the relevant evolutions in both devices and interface design.
Virtual reality could be defined also as a computer system that generates in real time representations of reality, which in fact are nothing more than illusions since it is a perceptual reality without any physical support and that only occurs inside computers.
The simulation made by virtual reality can refer to virtual scenes, creating a virtual world that exists only in the computer of places or objects that exist in reality. It also allows to capture the implicit will of the user in his natural movements projecting them in the virtual world that we are generating, projecting in the virtual world real movements.
In addition, it also allows us to immerse ourselves completely in a virtual world, disconnecting the senses completely from reality, giving the person inside the virtual world the feeling that reality corresponds to the virtual world.
The applications that we currently find of virtual reality to activities of daily life are many and diverse. We must highlight: the reconstruction of cultural heritage, medicine, simulation of crowds and the sensation of presence.
The reconstruction of cultural heritage consists of the recovery through simulation of unique pieces of antiquity that have been destroyed or are degraded. In some cases, entire pieces can be simulated from a few remains. In addition, virtual reality makes it possible to show the piece in perfect condition in different parts of the world at the same time, and even allows the creation of entire museums with virtual pieces.
The application in medicine can be found in the virtual simulation of the human body. From images of our body, a 3D recreation of the patient can be made, which facilitates the elaboration of a diagnosis, or the simulation of operations if necessary.
Augmented Reality (AR) assigns the interaction between virtual environments and the physical world, allowing both to intermingle through a technological device such as webcams, cell phones (IOS or Android), tablets, among others.
In other words, AR inserts virtual objects in the physical context and shows them to the user using the interface of the real environment with the support of technology. This resource has been revolutionizing the way we deal with our tasks (and even those we assign to machines).
Thus, we can say that Augmented Reality is characterized by:
combining the real and virtual worlds;
offering real-time interaction;
adapting to the environment in which it is inserted;
interacting with all the physical capabilities of the environment (in three dimensions).
Have you noticed that we refer to Virtual Reality as an integral part of Augmented Reality? That's because AR and VR are two different concepts, although commonly confused, and that in many cases they work together.
How does Augmented Reality work?
The integration between the real (physical) world and the virtual world is the main objective of this technology. Thus, for Augmented Reality to be reproduced, 3 fundamental components are needed:
a real object that functions as a reference for the interpretation and creation of the virtual object.
The presence of a device with a camera -such as a mobile phone- to transmit the image of the real object.
A software responsible for interpreting the signal transmitted by the camera.
Through the camera, the real object is transmitted to the software, which receives the image and combines it with 3D projections.
In turn, the projections are inserted into the image and superimposed on the physical environment, reflecting the result of AR to the user.
What advantages does Augmented Reality offer companies?
Although the most popular applications of Augmented Reality are, for the most part, aimed at entertainment - such as games - companies from different segments (such as education, medicine, fashion, real estate, etc.) can also apply it, for example, in the development of their products and in their marketing strategies.
Augmented Reality generates many opportunities and can completely transform the way brands approach and relate to their consumers.
Although they have a very similar name, their characteristics and objectives are quite different.
While Virtual Reality creates a totally new environment detached from the real world, Augmented Reality includes digital components in the physical world around us.
Both require a technological intermediary to access them, however, they offer totally different experiences for users.
Virtual Reality replaces the "real" with 100% virtual content. This type of technology allows, for example, to enter games, scenarios and environments, where the user performs actions, moves and interacts with the fully digital content, through a complete immersion.
On the other hand, Augmented Reality projects information (such as images, graphics, characters, texts) in the real world, providing a new vision of the physical space.
A practical example is the game Pokémon Go, which shows the characters to be captured in the environment where the user is playing, as if they were part of the place.
Teslasuit, the haptic electric virtual reality combination
Hardlight Suit, the haptic jacket for virtual reality
TEGway ThermoReal, a virtual reality combination for temperature sensing
bHaptics TactSuit: a haptic virtual reality suit lined with a mask
Axon VR HatpX Skeleton: an exoskeleton for virtual reality
Illusion VR: a haptic virtual reality combination for virtual reality pornography
Synesthesia Suit, a haptic jacket for the Rez Infinite game
Rapture Vest: The Void's haptic VR jacket
Virtual reality headsets allow the user to immerse himself in virtual reality. Once equipped with such a device, the user perceives the 360-degree virtual environment around him, as he is used to perceiving the real world. Thus, their sight is deceived in the same way as their hearing thanks to the spatialized 3D audio. the senses so deceived persuade the mind that virtual reality is reality.
Accessories such as Oculus Touch motion controllers also allow the illusion to be reinforced by allowing the user to use their hands in a more or less natural way to interact in virtual reality. However, for the user to really feel transported to another world, virtual reality headsets are missing a crucial element: touch stimulation.
Fortunately, some accessories can already fill this gap. You may already be familiar with virtual reality gloves or haptic gloves, which allow you to feel the touch of objects you touch with your hands in virtual reality, or even their weight and texture. In this article, however, we will discuss another category of accessories: virtual reality haptic combinations.
These assemblies, which dress the user's entire body, make it possible to receive haptic feedback throughout the body. Thus, through vibrations and other artificial force effects, the user experiences the sensation of touching and touching in the real world depending on the events occurring in VR. From the gentle morning dew dampening the air to the impact of a .45-caliber bullet in the chest, a haptic virtual reality suit allows the user to feel all the sensations of his or her avatar. Here are the best models.
TESLASUIT, THE HAPTIC COMBINATION OF ELECTRIC VIRTUAL REALITY
The Teslasuit is a haptic virtual reality combination based on an electro-tactile haptic feedback system. Touch sensations are transmitted to the user's body through neuromuscular electrical stimulation. Thus, the operation of this panoply is similar to that of the human body. This technology is already widely used in the therapeutic field.
Specifically, the Teslasuit brings together 68 electrical channels to allow the user to feel all the sensations of touch. The company plans to increase the number of channels for the final version of its haptic virtual reality combination. It is these channels that allow the user to feel all the sensations of touch, precisely located on his or her body.
It is possible to feel all sensations, from the gentlest of caresses to the most violent of impacts. However, the manufacturer has chosen to limit the power of the impacts to the user's own strength for safety reasons. The developer versions have already shipped and the consumer version is expected in 2019.
HARDLIGHT SUIT, THE HAPTIC JACKET FOR VIRTUAL REALITY
Created by NullSpace VR and funded through a Kickstarter campaign, Hardlight is not a haptic suit, but a haptic jacket. She does not therefore cover only the upper part of the user's body. This jacket has 16 pads to receive haptic feedback on the torso, back, arms and shoulders.
These cushions can be activated by any software integrated with the NullSpace VR API offered by the company to developers. Several virtual reality games, including Sairento VR, are compatible with Hardlight Suit. In total, the company is in partnership with 27 game developers and plans to announce new partnerships with several major names in the gaming industry in the near future.
The jacket also offers 117 vibration patterns and allows developers to create their own patterns to match their content. So if you are using a gun, for example, in a virtual reality game, the vibration you feel in your arm will be similar to the recoil sensation caused by a gun in the real world. Thanks to inertial sensors by allowing to detect rotational movements, the jacket is also able to detect the user's orientation in relation to the virtual world.
The Hardlight Suit Mark III is compatible with all different PC virtual reality headsets and can be adjusted to fit all body types. Early Kickstarter backers have started receiving their jackets, but people who pre-order the Hardlight Suit now delivered between March and April 2018. The Hardlight Suit Mark III is available pre-order for $300 (versus $630 for the old version). Nullspace VR also plans to market a $100 module to experience lower back sensations.
TEGWAY THERMOREAL, A VIRTUAL REALITY COMBINATION FOR TEMPERATURE SENSATION
Unlike the other wetsuits in this top, South Korea's TEGway does not focus on haptic feedback. The TEGway ThermoReal is a thermoelectric suit that allows you to feel the temperature in virtual reality. She can quickly heat or cool between 4 and 40 degrees Celsius.
Thus, you can feel the heat of the fire or the cold of the blizzard during your VR excursions. This panoply is even capable of simultaneously producing cold and heat on different areas of the same surface, allowing you to simulate a pinch to produce a sensation of pain. It is not yet clear when and at what price this technology will be offered to the general public.
BHAPTICS TACTSUIT: A HAPTIC VIRTUAL REALITY SUIT ENCASED IN A MASK
Presented as part of the HTC Vive X Demo Day 2017, the bHaptics TactSuit is a set consisting of a haptic jacket, haptic sleeves, but also a haptic mask. Thus, the user not only feels touch sensations at the torso and arm level, but also at the face.
The set includes a total of 87 assessment points driven by vibration motors. Seven of these actuators are located on the face, 20 on the front of the jacket, 20 on the back and 20 on each sleeve. With these many feedback points, game developers can precisely program haptic feedback for a more immersive experience.
Developers can use the dedicated haptic editing software, which works in conjunction with Unity, to fully customize the TactSuit haptic feedback experience. Patterns, vibration path, vibration strength of each point can be adjusted through an intuitive interface.
Already used at the Lotte World theme park in Seoul, South Korea, for a horror game called Zombie Attack, this combination is attracting many users. The TactSuit is now available for $549, but only companies (arcades, amusement parks) can buy the complete combination. Individuals must make do with the sleeves.
AXON VR HATPX SKELETON: AN EXOSKELETON FOR VIRTUAL REALITY
Axon VR is determined to enable virtual reality headset users to immerse themselves 100% in virtual reality and not go with the back of the spoon. HaptX is a haptic combination that allows to simulate touch, but also temperature, vibrations, movements, shape and texture of virtual objects.
The company also offers the HaptX Skeleton, a very light exoskeleton also allowing to feel feelings of physical strength. Unfortunately, at the moment, we do not know when this set will be commercialized. Note that the manufacturer is also at the origin of the HaptX Glove haptic glove.
ILLUSION VR: A HAPTIC VIRTUAL REALITY COMBINATION FOR VIRTUAL REALITY PORNOGRAPHY
Straight from Japan, Illusion VR is a haptic combo completely dedicated to virtual reality porn. In addition to a costume that covers the entire body to allow receiving haptic feedback, this set also includes an artificial vagina type ex motorized toy.
There is also a pair of fake boobs, positioned at torso height, to allow the user to feel the breasts of the busty creatures he contemplates in VR. A combination reserved for a very specific use, which will also give you a very special look. Only works with Samsung Gear VR. Available for approx. $400 in Japan.
SYNESTHESIA SUIT, A HAPTIC JACKET FOR THE GAME REZ INFINITE
Specially created for the game Rez Infinite, a musical shooter, the Synesthesia Suit gathers 26 actuators distributed all over the user's body. These actuators vibrate to the rhythm of the music. Depending on the instrument played in the game (percussion, strings, etc.) the sensation provided is different.
In addition, the jacket has LEDs that light up in rhythm and change color according to the sounds. This combination allows the user to experience the music not only with their hearing, but also with their touch and sight. The name of this panoply thus refers to synesthesia, a neurological phenomenon of sensory association that affects a small part of the world's population. However, with the VR version of Rez Infinite, the visual dimension loses its interest as the user has his helmet in front of his eyes. Remember that Rez Infinite is a game that originally appeared on Dreamcast and PS2 in 2001.
RAPTURE VEST: THE VOID'S HAPTIC VR JACKET
This high-performance virtual reality haptic combo is created by The Void, the world leader in virtual reality theme parks to whom we owe the Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire attraction. This jacket works with the VR Rapture headset, also created by The Void.
Lightweight and adjustable, this jacket impresses with its precision and the fluidity of the haptic feedback it provides. Four types of haptic feedback are used, to allow different sensations to be experienced depending on the context. Therefore, a laser shot or a revolver bullet will not have the same effect. Unfortunately, it is impossible for consumers to get their hands on this jacket, but we can imagine that its price far exceeds that of other virtual reality haptic combinations. Nevertheless, the Rapture Vest offers a good glimpse into the future.