Haptic sex suits, and the ability to feel bodily touch in general, might be a step closer after scientists last week revealed promising research involving sheets composed of tiny bubbles.
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.