The new virtual reality device lets players feel the water fountains, mud splashes and crawling insects on their lips

While VR . Games It’s come a long way since its massive and cumbersome beginnings, often missing the key ingredient that can create a truly immersive experience: the sense of touch. Fortunately, engineers at Carnegie Mellon University have created a new device that lets you feel the sensations on your lips, teeth, and tongue in virtual worlds — so if you can’t brush your teeth in real life, you’ll at least be able to do it in VR.

The device uses a series of ultrasound units called transducers that are attached to the bottom of a VR headset. The transducers help create haptic feedback, or a technology that creates a tactile sense, by shooting ultrasound waves into your mouth. This creates a tactile experience It allows your lips to “feel” what you might encounter in the digital world such as falling rain and water fountains.

“Ultrasound has peaks and valleys, so we can time it so that when multiple peaks reach the same place on your face at the same time, you can actually feel it,” Vivian Shen, a doctoral student in robotics at Carnegie Mellon University, tells The Daily Best. “That’s enough pressure that it actually hurts your skin.”

slang Co-author a paper About the Device with Craig Schultz, Postdoctoral Fellow at the Human Computer Interaction Institute (HCII); and Chris Harrison, associate professor at HCII. The team was also repeating sensations like wind whipping while you’re driving a car, a toothbrush to brush your teeth, and — horrifyingly — spiders crawling across your lips.

To achieve the results, the researchers relied on the natural sensitivity of the human mouth. Although there have been virtual reality devices that have attempted to replicate tactile sensations on the mouth before, they have been impractical — with a single device that uses Small robotic arm that will flick a rubber feather across the wearer’s lips. Instead, the CMU team used ultrasound, which are high-frequency sound waves that can travel through the air and cause sensations when they come into contact with human skin.

The team created an array of 64 tiny ultrasound transducers that focus waves into the wearer’s mouth, heightening the sensory effects. It’s not perfect. While it worked to create mouth-specific effects such as brushing teeth or drinking water, it also didn’t work with sensations involving larger parts of the body such as walking in cobwebs. However, it does offer some promising results for haptic feedback on the user’s mouth.

“Sound compression is done by all transducers,” Shane said. “That’s why we need a set of transducers. Depending on the angle and position, they need to be fired at a different time so that the peak of the wave reaches the same point as the next. It feels like a little vibratory knot in space.”

Aside from games, Shen said there are a wide range of applications for the device including training simulations for medical professionals such as dentists and orthodontists. Doing this type of training in virtual reality can allow the wearer to perform mock actions from anywhere in the world.

Unfortunately for any player who struggles with loneliness, the technology is not sophisticated enough to create the feeling Kissing someone in virtual reality. This is because the ultrasonic feeling can only come from a very small knot, Shen said. “You can’t make this giant feeling ball,” she said. “This is why all the sensations in our examples are so small as a spider on your face or things like wind and rain.”

So don’t expect to coexist with zombies the walking Dead VR . game anytime soon.

The VR headset uses an array of ultrasound to create feelings in the wearer’s mouth.

Carnegie Mellon University