June 4, 2019

Drag:on varies air resistance for VR feedback

As seen here, “Standard controllers for virtual reality (VR) lack sophisticated means to convey realistic, kinesthetic impression on size, resistance or inertia.” To overcome these limitations, André Zenner and Antonio Krüger at the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) have come up with Drag:on—a haptic feedback device that changes air resistance and weight distribution using a pair of commercially-available hand fans.

Drag:on uses a pair of MG996R servos to actuate the fan, shifting its weight and air resistance as needed to simulate a virtual environment. The assembly is attached to an HTC Vive tracker, and an Arduino Nano provides control and computer interface via a USB serial link.

Drag:on leverages the airflow occurring at the controller during interaction. By dynamically adjusting its surface area, the controller changes the drag and rotational inertia felt by the user. In a user study, we found that Drag:on can provide distinguishable levels of haptic feedback. Our prototype increases the haptic realism in VR compared to standard controllers and when rotated or swung improves the perception of virtual resistance. By this, Drag:on provides haptic feedback suitable for rendering different virtual mechanical resistances, virtual gas streams, and virtual objects differing in scale, material and fill state

More details on the project can be found in the researchers’ paper here.

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