The prospect of hyper-realistic virtual reality (VR) kissing sensations —or indeed many other intimate sensations related to the lips, tongue and teeth— being available through mass-market devices has been raised by new haptics research being carried out by Carnegie Mellon University’s Future Interfaces Group.
The device, which attaches to an off-the-shelf VR headset and doesn’t require any other additional technology, uses ultrasonic transducers focused on the mouth to create pressure sensations during a VR experience. Ultrasonic transducers are devices that create ultrasonic vibrations – in this case, used to create sensations such as single impulses, persistent vibrations, and swipe motions on the wearer’s mouth.
The researchers attached their device to the underside of the VR headset, placed above and forward from the wearer’s face. They said it does not require additional equipment to use, so could potentially become a relatively straightforward add-on that sees broader adoption in the future.
Haptic devices such as vests and gloves are widely available already, and create bodily sensations from VR feedback, most for gaming purposes. The Carnegie Mellon University researchers say that as the human mouth is second in terms of tactile sensitivity only to the fingertips, there was surprisingly little research into VR mouth sensations in the field up to now.
They outlined their device in their research paper, Mouth Haptics in VR using a Headset Ultrasound Phased Array. During their research they created sensations on the mouth linked to VR experiences including a spider web being drawn against the face, a spider jumping onto the mouth, water from a drinking fountain splashing against the mouth, drinking coffee and smoking a cigarette, among other sensory experiences.
With the researchers already successfully simulating the sensation of liquid entering the mouth, the sextech potential of their device is obvious. Indeed, they said that their headset add-on could be “incorporated into new and interesting VR experiences”.
Sounds like they’ve got it licked.