Support credible science journalism. In the April 14 SN: Killer heat, mass insect migrations, the latest Saturn updates, rethinking the Nobel Prize, tectonics on Venus, the science of mass shootings, ancient tool trends and more.  EERIE FEELING  Making tactile sensations more realistic doesn’t necessarily improve users’ virtual reality experience.

C.C. Berger et al/Science Robotics 2018 There’s a fine line between immersive and unnerving when it comes to touch sensation in virtual reality.

More realistic tactile feedback in VR can ruin a user’s feeling of immersion, researchers report online April 18 in Science Robotics. The finding suggests that the “uncanny valley” — a term that describes how humanoid robots that look almost but not quite human are creepier than their more cartoonish counterparts — also applies to virtual touch (SN Online: 11/22/13).

Experiment participants wearing VR headsets and gripping a controller in each hand embodied a virtual avatar holding the two ends of a stick. At first, users felt no touch sensation.

Then, the hand controllers gave equally strong vibrations every half-second. Finally, the vibrations were finely tuned to create the illusion that the virtual stick was being touched in different spots. Read more from sciencenews.org…

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