In yet another breakthrough research involving immersive experiences, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have discovered a method to manifest the experience of a real-life kiss virtually.
The kiss feels like-like because it involves the user’s tongue, teeth, and lips.
Sensations felt during a virtual kiss are said to be real-life-like, and the same research discovered multiple other sensations that could be replicated in the metaverse as well.
How were the Researchers Able to Recreate the Sensation of a Kiss?
To create a metaverse kiss, researchers at the Future Interfaces Group, which belongs to Carnegie Mellon University, used a thin array of transducers.
These transducers were implanted into a VR headset that could channel ultrasound energy to various areas of the mouth.
As a result, the sensations feel real and are as close to a real kiss as one can get.
The same researchers also recreated sensations of brushing your teeth, feeling raindrops, smoking a cigarette, or tasting a drink.
In other words, this is one of the first research studies that has documented the possibility of real-sensations using transducers that are integrated into a VR headset.
What Does a Metaverse Kiss Feel Like?
The sensation of a kiss usually involves the oral region which includes the lips, tongue, teeth, and the inner cheeks.
The transducers can create haptic effects across these areas to replicate the feeling of a kiss.
However, the researchers have not said anything about the sensation of taste, as that is part of the experience of a kiss as well.
While they were able to create the sensation of a liquid in the mouth, which might translate to salivary sensations, it does not suggest a person can also taste the other individual’s mouth.
There are several questions that this research study raises, including ethical and moral ones.
The Virtual Kiss Study has Deeper Implications for the Gaming Community
The researchers revealed that this experiment has a wide range of implications, especially for the gaming community.
They showed that in a horror game, a VR headset user can simulate the feeling of a spider crawling across their lips.
They could also feel the sensation of liquid pouring into one’s oral orifice.
As a result, video gamers can now experience sensations such as insects crawling on their lips, or being forced.
To drink nasty tasting liquids, or smoke a cigarette as part of the gameplay.
The scholars explained that as the headset is located very close to the mouth, it is easy to create haptic effects in and on the mouth without having to use additional accessories.
The trick to creating these sensations in and around the mouth is to use beam-forming ultrasonic transducers which are compact and thin.
These transducers create haptic effects in the oral orifice.
As all the transducers are integrated into the headset, users do not have to purchase additional accessories or external infrastructure.
The Study Does Not Address the Possibility of Harassment and the Issue of Consent on the Metaverse
While it certainly seems like an exciting way to enhance immersive experiences in the metaverse and during playing games, it also raises certain moral and ethical questions.
There have been increasing reports of women being harassed on metaverse platforms, and with misogyny being rampant across the tech world and in real life, virtual kisses may provide an opportunity for miscreants to create trouble.
However, it needs to be seen how these and other issues of consent and harassment can be addressed while improving the immersive experiences of legitimate metaverse users.
Nevertheless, this study shows that creating physical sensations without the need for additional accessories or equipment is quite possible and realistic.
It is only a matter of time before people will be able to experience more immersive situations.
This has implications not only for the gaming community but also for the general public that will eventually move to the metaverse.