A team of researchers have created a system that will allow users to physically interact with a virtual reality environment.

“haptics for VR walls” is a work by Pedro Lopes, Sijing You, Lung-Pan Cheng, Sebastian Marwecki, and Patrick Baudisch at the Hasso Plattner Institut in Pottsdam, Germany.

From the abstract:

We explore how to add haptics to walls and other heavy objects in virtual reality. When a user tries to push such an object, our system actuates the user’s shoulder, arm, and wrist muscles by means of electrical muscle stimulation, creating a counter force that pulls the user’s arm backwards. Our device accomplishes this in a wearable form factor. 

The team conducted two rounds of tests, first to demonstrate that the repulsion fields and rigid objects were realistic enough, and second, to “[let] participants explore a virtual world in which all objects provide haptic EMS effects, including walls, gates, sliders, boxes, and projectiles”.

 

Visit the team’s project page to learn more about the technology that powers the system.