Scientists have just discovered that human touch can differentiate between layers on a molecular level, which could have ramifications for VR.
Researchers at the University of California San Diego have just made a groundbreaking discovery that could change the future of virtual and augmented reality. They discovered that human touch is incredible sensitive, to the point that we can actually differentiate between surfaces even when their only difference is a single layer of molecules.
It shows we have incredible tactile sensitivity, more so than scientists had imagined, and it also opens up the possibility of some important technological breakthroughs. That’s because one of the challenges of virtual reality is that we don’t fully understand how human touch works, so research in this area could help us create VR and augmented reality that is incredibly real.
In addition to enhancements to virtual reality, this finding could also help us develop electronic skin for prosthetics. Researchers claim this is the first attempt to combine materials science and psychophysics to better understand human touch.
“Today’s technologies allow us to see and hear what’s happening, but we can’t feel it,” said Cody Carpenter, a nanoengineering Ph.D. student at UC San Diego and co-first author of the study. “We have state-of-the-art speakers, phones and high-resolution screens that are visually and aurally engaging, but what’s missing is the sense of touch. Adding that ingredient is a driving force behind this work.”