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Virtual Reality, with Feeling

By sensing subtle changes in people’s faces, a British startup hopes to inject a little more emotion into the virtual world.
September 8, 2016

Truly immersive virtual reality requires more than just convincing visuals. Now a British startup has developed a neat way to inject feelings, too.

In the past, external cameras have been used to monitor the movement of facial features as a means of adding emotion to VR. The new system, developed by Emteq, uses small sensors embedded into a VR headset to measure electrical signals, heart rate, and muscle movement. According to Engineering & Technology, that allows the system, known as Faceteq, to capture a wider range of emotional response than visual approaches.

The detected emotions can then be applied to an avatar in the virtual world. That clearly has uses in game play and the workplace: observing another person’s emotions in the virtual world could add an extra layer of realism. Or, perhaps, even give away aspects of your play that might otherwise have remained secret.

It’s not the only approach being used to make VR more convincing. A small startup called Midas Touch Games is developing more accurate physics engines to help make human movement in the virtual world look more realistic, and the likes of Dolby are trying to make 3-D sound as convincing as possible.

One day, you might never need to take those goggles off.

(Read more: Engineering & Technology, “The Quest to Put More Reality in Virtual Reality,” “Virtual Reality Actually Feels Real When It Uses Physics”)

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