A team from Microsoft recently published a whitepaper in which they explain that the two hand-held controls, named NormalTouch and TextureTouch, use actuators to translate virtual images into mechanical renditions. They can’t yet recreate the full virtual objects, but are able to recreate what passes under one finger.
NormalTouch uses a small platform attached to the controller to provide “haptic and force feedback,” when an individual moves their finger over the VR scenario. Furthermore, NormalTouch can also simulate force within the virtual world, allowing you to push virtual objects around a platform.
TextureTouch works in a similar way, but instead of NormalTouch’s tiltable platform, this controller uses a 4×4 matrix of actuated pins. By moving each pin based on the object beneath it, the controller can simulate the texture of multiple objects.
Current commercial VR systems stimulate the eyes and ears, but touch sensation is no more than the vibrations of traditional game controllers. Microsoft studies discovered that their ability to simulate touching objects significantly increased the accuracy of VR interaction, improving on the overall user experience.
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