Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have developed a technique in which players receive haptic feedback on the mouth when using a VR headset. By means of ultrasonic waves, the sensation of water, wind and even spiders can be generated.
The prototype, made by the Future Interfaces Group at the appropriate university, simulates sensations on a user’s lips, teeth and tongue by emitting targeted sound waves. This should then generate certain sensations to support what is happening in the virtual world. The dozens of ultrasonic phased arrays can be used in various ways, for example by stimulating one point around the mouth or by imitating a movement. The current prototype was mounted on an Oculus Quest 2 and should in principle be usable without additional hardware.
The researchers tested applications of haptic feedback for the mouth through various VR scenes. For example, test subjects had to walk through a ghostly forest, where they walked through cobwebs and were attacked by spiders. By ‘drawing’ a swipe and random impulses on the mouth with the ultrasonic haptic feedback, the VR experience would still feel more real. Also, water droplets, the wind, drinking coffee and smoking a cigarette would feel more lifelike with the technology.
According to the researchers, the mouth is the most touch-sensitive after the hands because there are relatively many receptors here in close proximity to each other. The concept of haptic feedback is usually applied to the hands, for example in the new DualSense controllers for the PlayStation 5 or in the VR gloves from Meta.