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The road to 100% immersive virtual reality

Rifts
Level 5
The goal of virtual reality is evidently to transport you into modified worlds that are either more visually appealing, exciting or horrifying than the real one. With an Oculus Rift we're tricking two out of five senses into thinking we're somewhere else (sight and hearing). But how do we immerse our selves 100% into virtual reality? Below I'll try to explain each part in detail and how far we've come. I'm going to skip sound in this post as it's very easy to replicate, and no further advances are really needed.
 
Sight - This is probably the most important sense to manipulate, and even though we've come very far, there are a lot of progress to be made. Most importantly higher resolution (16k+), wider FOV, and eye tracking. But also lighter HMD's that eventually could transition into bionic contact lenses, although this might take a while.

Touch - Full body haptic feedback suits like the Teslasuit are currently in development and will bring virtual reality to new heights. These suits would have to mimic all kind of touch sensations like heat, cold, wetness, vibration, breezes and feather light touches. Eventually the technology would have to expand beyond fabric suits into something you could really 'coat' your body with, like a conductive paste sprinkled with sensors to reach parts of the body otherwise not accessible, and I mean ALL the parts  B). This could prove tricky for places like the the eyeballs or most importantly, the insides of your mouth (very important when simulating eating).

Taste and smell - Advances have been made and these senses seem quite easy to replicate artificially. Electrical stimulation and thermal changes can produce several major taste sensations like sweetness, saltiness, sourness, bitterness, mintyness and spiciness. Although the technology have to develop into something you could wear on your tongue comfortably. Regarding smell there is already a device called "FeelReal" that can produce 7 odors so far, attachable to the Oculus Rift DK2. 

So lets say there's enough progress that we can artificially create all of these sensations using various technologies, will it feel exactly like reality? Sadly no. There are still other 'senses' like balance, acceleration, proprioception (position of the body parts), hunger, thirst, internal pain, nausea (why you would want those two I have no idea) and others that are near impossible to replicate with today's technology. The only way to influence these senses would be to surgically manipulate the brain, which we are very far from accomplishing. 

Another aspect, and possibly the most important one, is how do we create worlds that are as believable as the real one? I'm not just talking about the visual part, but how do we overcome the boundaries of digital environments like everything having to be precisely coded and planned in advance? Firstly there'd have to be advancement on the AI field, with the outcome of our actions being randomized within certain boundaries. Interaction would have to be unpredictable yet logical, with reactions seeming real and not picked out of an array as the response that made the most sense. I believe quantum computing will eventually let us create 'real' humans in virtual space, but that might also take a while.

In conclusion, virtual reality has come a long way in the last ~25 years, mainly in the visual aspect and new technologies are emerging to make digital worlds seem even more real. I'm certain that humanity will eventually move into virtual space to never return, and that we've found the answer to the Fermi Paradox, but that's just me  πŸ˜„

I'm done rambling and would love to hear what other people have in mind regarding the future of Oculus Rift and virtual reality!
28 REPLIES 28

Anonymous
Not applicable
Touch controllers?

GenetixStudio
Level 9
Haha that was a good read. I'm not going to delve to deep into my thoughts here... I think personally the best solution is to tap into our brains.

When I am having a very detailed (or lucid) dream, I can experience the sensation of moving, falling, warmth, coldness, taste, hearing... so many things. Even though I am laying down, a vivid dream can feel extremely realistic, and at times you began to assume that is your reality.

I think future VR experiences will essentially put you into a dream state - a lucid one that you aware of. They will literally send signals into your brain that put you into another reality.

If that sounds all to sci-fi look at all of the work that is already being done, and products like the emotiv headsets. Maybe 20 years this could be a new reality!

Shadowmask72
Level 15
Hey check this out. At least this attempts to get the "smell" sense tingling. 

http://feelreal.com/


System Specs: ASUS NVIDIA RTX 3090 TUF GAMING OC 24GB , i9 9900K CPU, 16 GB DDR 4 RAM, Win 10 64 Bit OS.

LZoltowski
Volunteer Moderator
Volunteer Moderator
True immersion will become at VR singularity. When your HMDs can stimulate parts of your brain to simulate vision, sight, touch smell ... all of these are experienced though your body's own "sensors" that send signals to your Brain CPU. Bypassing your "sensors" and sending signals directly to your brain will bring true 100% immersion. Perhaps not as Macabre as a Matrix style interface, but brain stimulation via electromagnetic fields etc Until that happens all of those devices and doodas are just more hardware trying to fool our wetware.
Core i7-7700k @ 4.9 Ghz | 32 GB DDR4 Corsair Vengeance @ 3000Mhz | 2x 1TB Samsung Evo | 2x 4GB WD Black
ASUS MAXIMUS IX HERO | MSI AERO GTX 1080 OC @ 2000Mhz | Corsair Carbide Series 400C White (RGB FTW!) 

Be kind to one another πŸ™‚

Rifts
Level 5


Haha that was a good read. I'm not going to delve to deep into my thoughts here... I think personally the best solution is to tap into our brains.

When I am having a very detailed (or lucid) dream, I can experience the sensation of moving, falling, warmth, coldness, taste, hearing... so many things. Even though I am laying down, a vivid dream can feel extremely realistic, and at times you began to assume that is your reality.

I think future VR experiences will essentially put you into a dream state - a lucid one that you aware of. They will literally send signals into your brain that put you into another reality.

If that sounds all to sci-fi look at all of the work that is already being done, and products like the emotiv headsets. Maybe 20 years this could be a new reality!




True immersion will become at VR singularity. When your HMDs can stimulate parts of your brain to simulate vision, sight, touch smell ... all of these are experienced though your body's own "sensors" that send signals to your Brain CPU. Bypassing your "sensors" and sending signals directly to your brain will bring true 100% immersion. Perhaps not as Macabre as a Matrix style interface, but brain stimulation via electromagnetic fields etc Until that happens all of those devices and doodas are just more hardware trying to fool our wetware.


I agree that internal manipulation of the brain would be much more effective than external stimuli. Eventually this will probably become reality, but I think it's further down the road. There'll be a gradual increase in quality of the products that exists today, until eventually in 50-100 years, we can't tell virtual reality from the real world. Then we'll stop reproducing and everyone will die  >:)

Although once we manage to actually tap into our minds and manipulate the nervous system, we probably know enough about the brain to create digital copies, which mean we could get an entire population of humans having no actual body and only living digitally.

Unless we already are  πŸ˜‰

CrashFu
Level 12
Yeah, VR will go with enhanced optics, haptic feedback, and other sensory simulation (such as "smell-o-vision") and then eventually culminate in Direct Neural Interface.

AR on the other hand will probably focus its development on smarter environmental recognition / integration and.. possibly also haptics, although I think the overall goal there is for it to use less and less equipment.  IE trade in motion control devices for things like Leap Motion, or something very discrete and lightweight that you could wear in public and not get laughed at...  Then eventually all VR aspects of AR will be replaced completely with holograms, and sometime after that culminate in an actual Holodeck like on star-trek.

But hey, right now we're still a few years away from affordable 4k resolution HMD screens, so my advice to everyone is to appreciate what we have now, and not be disappointed just because you can imagine something better. :wink:

It's hard being the voice of reason when you're surrounded by unreasonable people.

benplace
Level 8
I think a VR Fan would be cool.  With variable speed that runs based on your environment.  Imagine the snow scenes in Edge of Nowhere the fan would be on high and maybe the cave scenes are on low setting.
It could have a pass through USB3 port so it can connect to your sensor without needing an additional outlet or USB port. Hell they could make it clip right onto the sensor bar...

Greyman
Level 9
Another challenge with the sense of touch is that of resistance to movement.  If you have two hands on a virtual sword, what is to stop your hands separating.  well, in that example you could use a real life proxy, like a vive controller, but if you were to hit a virtual enemy with your fist, where would the resistance come from?

Exo-skeleton comes to mind, on top of the body suit already mentioned, and the challenges associated with that it might actually be easier to use a matrix-style interface, to fool your arm and other associated muscles into thinking that your fist had hit an immovable object.

One day maybe  

Rifts
Level 5

Greyman said:

Another challenge with the sense of touch is that of resistance to movement.  If you have two hands on a virtual sword, what is to stop your hands separating.  well, in that example you could use a real life proxy, like a vive controller, but if you were to hit a virtual enemy with your fist, where would the resistance come from?

Exo-skeleton comes to mind, on top of the body suit already mentioned, and the challenges associated with that it might actually be easier to use a matrix-style interface, to fool your arm and other associated muscles into thinking that your fist had hit an immovable object.

One day maybe  


Yes that would be another obstacle. As well as fooling your brain or using an exo-skeleton, you could probably use magnetism. Attach programmable magnetic pieces to your suit and then activate a powerful electromagnet mid-swing, and your arm will feel like it collided with something and retract in the opposite direction.