Everybody know that virtual reality is more and more incorporated in companies. But what about integrating haptics into virtual reality? Are companies really aware of the benefits they can reap?
In order to demonstrate the benefits of this technology in VR, we spoke to our partner Haption, manufacturer and supplier of force feedback systems, and recognized expert in haptics.
In this article, explore how this promising technology is proving beneficial in a wide range of applications!
The importance of the sense of touch in VR
While virtual reality offers businesses immersive experiences by recreating realistic visual environments, it's vital to note that other senses, such as taste and smell, are virtually untapped and difficult to access.
But what happens when we explore the sense of touch? That's where haptics comes in, paving the way for a new sensory dimension! By adding the sense of touch, haptics enables users to interact tactilely with the virtual world, creating a more realistic immersion and a more enriching experience.
In the context of Haption, our focus is on kinesthetic haptics, and the effort feedback they generate.
Understanding force feedback
What is force feedback?
Kinesthetic haptics is a technological approach that aims to reproduce muscular sensations by providing force and resistance feedback to users when they interact with virtual objects. Force feedback is that "physical" response from the haptic device that gives you the sensation of touch and resistance when manipulating virtual objects. It occurs after feedback, which is the return of an effect on the device itself.
In simple terms, this is the sensation of touch and resistance you feel when interacting with virtual objects. For example, if you push a virtual wall and feel resistance in your hand, it's thanks to force feedback. This makes virtual experiences more realistic and immersive.
4 major applications of haptics in virtual reality!
Benefit 1: Greater immersion in assembly and design processes.
Haptics are increasingly integrated into production processes. This technology brings real added value to the user by providing force feedback when encountering an impassable obstacle (e.g. a wall).
Virtuose haptic arm in action during an INTERACT demo
Example: An operator uses virtual reality software such as INTERACT to design a car. Equipped with a Virtuose haptic device from Haption, he can feel when the parts fit together correctly. If the operator tries to place an engine in the hood and the available space doesn't allow it, he will feel resistance, indicating that it's physically unavailable. This tactile feedback reinforces immersion, helping the operator to make the right design decisions quickly.
Benefit 2: Cost savings in prototyping.
As stated above, virtual reality, as a decision-making tool, helps to reduce prototyping costs. Using haptic technology, Product Designers can create virtual prototypes and evaluate the feel of products before moving on to physical manufacturing.
Physical mock-ups require considerable investment in terms of time, manpower and materials. The advantage of haptics in virtual reality is ownership and evaluation of the (virtual) prototype. By creating virtual prototypes and using haptics, designers can test how products feel before they are physically manufactured.
As Jean François De Sallier, VR expert at Haption, points out, this approach can lead to significant savings on various aspects, while facilitating rapid adjustments.
Benefit 3: Haptics, a promising training technology.
Kinesthetic haptics are also finding promising applications in training, particularly in the health sector.
In this video from Haption, we see surgeons training with force feedback devices to develop their skills by performing virtual surgical gestures. This provides a safe, realistic way of perfecting techniques before applying them to real patients.
Benefit 4: Remote control of robots in dangerous environments
As a partner in the PI5G project, we can highlight the usefulness of haptics in remote operation.
The ambition of the PI5G project team? To meet the need for manual operations in hazardous environments.
To achieve this, the Virtuose haptic arm is used to operate a robot remotely via 5G. It enables the robot to be manipulated for screwing and handling operations, while providing effort feedback to ensure the safety of the remote operator. We have created an initial implementation of the Kairos robot cockpit in virtual reality using the Virtuose arm.
Haptics in virtual reality brings a number of tangible benefits, such as enhanced immersion in design, cost savings on prototypes, promising applications in medical training, and secure remote control of robots. This alliance is transforming our virtual experiences and redefining the way we interact with digital environments.