The quest for an all-senses virtual reality is not only of abstract research interest, but has numerous marketplace applications. Researchers have known for decades that the brain map of sensation does not necessarily correspond to physical reality. The authors report on their studies of how vibrators in contact with the skin might be used to generate the desired sensation. Individuals interested in full sensory interfaces will want to read the paper.
The researchers focus on the well-known phenomena of funneling and saltation. Funneling occurs when one experiences a number of touches as a single touch to the center of the area. Saltation refers to a sensation of moving touches produced by rapidly tapping two sections of the skin. The so-called cutaneous rabbit illusion has been the subject of much research.
The current researchers note that phantom out-of-body sensations, seemingly occurring in empty space, may be generated in some circumstances. The paper’s introduction reviews this research with appropriate illustrations. The current researchers’ experimental design and devices, utilized with five male and five female paid subjects, are discussed in detail. The researchers state: “The main purpose of our work was to validate whether there was no significant perceptual difference between saltation and funneling-driven phantom sensations and actual sensations.”
The researchers conclude that their experiments demonstrate that one may upgrade the tactile experience with no more than four vibrators in a handheld device. As they note, this is cost-effective. However, they plan for additional research and testing.
With ample illustrations, graphs of responses, and a detailed list of references, the researchers have produced an important and readable report.