We experience virtual reality substitute through glasses and controllers, but a new mask could give us a first-hand view of a potentially shocking Metaverse experience.
Virtual and augmented reality are supposed to allow us to easily go to places we otherwise could not physically reach or experience things that would be impossible according to the laws of physics. Being able to roam the surface of Mars without worrying about breathing is one of the many experiences that the metaverse promises to deliver, sooner or later. At the same time, however, there are some who criticize these experiences as clearly false and incredible because one can only see but not smell or smell the real thing. For better or worse, a team of scientists is at least trying to replicate the way you breathe in virtual worlds, but it can make it too real to the point that our brains and bodies will not be able to tell, what is real. is not.
Designers: Markus Tatzgern, Michael Domhardt, Martin Wolf, Michael Cenger, Gerlinde Emsenhuber, Radomir Dinic, Nathalie Gerner, Arnulf Hartl
Of course, VR hardware starts with the eyes and ears, as these are the easiest and most important senses to fool to create a suspension of faith. No matter how compelling this illusion is, however, it falls apart as you begin to try to move around and interact with the virtual world, which happens in the real world via controllers while remaining completely silent. Much of the research and development in technologies that will drive the so-called Metaverse is about navigation and more credible interaction, such as the use of gloves and walking machines. Very few deal with the credibility of the smell or at least the act of breathing.
Researchers from the Salzburg University of Applied Sciences in Austria are studying the virtual experience of creating a mesh design to restrict airflow in order to control the breathing resistance and thus the wearer’s breathing capacity. The prototype resembles a dystopian whitewashed gas mask and almost suggests the rather serious and almost critical use of the device. A final product would look more refined, provided something like this would ever be made commercially in the first place.
The idea is almost simple once you hear about it, and it’s about making the virtual experience more believable by tricking your body into thinking it’s handling real – world situations. Walking through a burning house may not smell like the real thing, but the mask can regulate and restrict airflow, so you experience the same difficulty in breathing as if you were in an actual fire. This could activate the brain’s natural struggle or escape response, and bring the experience closer to reality without endangering the wearer. Hopefully the wearer is physically able to endure this kind of stress.
Conversely, the person’s breathing can also be used as an additional means of controlling their virtual avatar, making their digital counterpart look just as exhausted as they do in the real world. It can also open doors to activities and games that would normally require you to breathe air, such as blowing out candles or inflating balloons. The mask can also be used as a control and monitoring unit for training simulations for firefighters and emergency personnel.
The same people who criticize virtual reality for being so blatantly false could also criticize this type of invention for going too far and making the experience too realistic. In a way, realism can actually remove some of the appeal of the metaverse, especially the ability to experience different places, worlds, and things without having to worry about hyperventilating. Of course, there will be perfect experiences for such respiratory control devices, such as horror games or training activities, but most people will probably try to do without the extra equipment. Alternatively, such a mask may be more useful for medical applications, and assist medical personnel in diagnosing a patient’s well-being through monitored and regulated breathing.