Researchers from Japan’s University of Tsukuba have unveiled a new non-contact technology capable of reproducing cold sensations within the metaverse while maintaining stable skin temperatures.
The innovative solution combines cold airflow and a light source, allowing for rapid shifts between cold and warm stimuli. This enables the induction of cold sensations with no actual change in skin temperature.
This technological advancement holds the potential to transform virtual reality (VR) thermal experiences by providing users with immediate and long-lasting thermal sensations, enhancing their virtual immersion.
The authors of the study emphasized the significant role played by skin in perceiving temperature and its impact on human perception of the world. They explained, “For instance, we perceive the chill of the outdoors when our cheeks blush with cold, and we sense the onset of spring when our skin warms up gradually.”
However, as they explained, frequent exposure to the same stimuli can lead to “temperature acclimatization,” where individuals become accustomed to these sensations, making it challenging to perceive new temperature changes while transitioning between VR scenes.
This newfound technology addresses this challenge by leveraging the human body’s innate sensitivity to rapid temperature fluctuations. It has the potential to offer more immersive metaverse experiences, encompassing not just immediate cold sensations but also lasting thermal encounters akin to those experienced during global travels.
The perception of thermal sensations is a crucial element that can deliver a more human-like experience within the virtual world.
Several innovations and developments, such as those presented at CES 2023, have been focused on “humanizing” the metaverse. These developments, including technologies that enable users to feel touch and smell within the virtual world, contribute to elevating the immersive experiences offered by the metaverse.