The same touchy engineers who gave us the first peelable epidermal electronics last year have a new virtual tactile system: Smart fingers, which could someday bring a real sense of touch to telepresence applications.
The real-life housing market might be in the dumps, but a Hollywood real estate mogul is making a killing in the virtual world. Jon Jacobs, aka “Neverdie” in the massively multiplayer Entropia Universe, just sold a virtual nightclub for the actual price of $635,000.
Proceeds from the sale will fund Jacobs’ virtual planet-building ventures, which could in turn create actual revenue streams for Hollywood, the recording industry and traditional media sources. Really.
First we got wireless video game controls, then motion sensing controllers, and now even a controller-free video game interface. But the next stage of human-computer interaction could be controllers that add hot and cold sensations to users’ simulated experiences.
Tired of seeing 3-D renderings of objects on your screen and being unable to grab and fondle them? Just slip your fingers into the firm grip of Japanese haptics robot HIRO III. Driven by 15 independent motors, its black phalanges provide real-time force feedback to your hand, precisely simulating the weight and contour of virtual 3-D objects -- a pretty wild paradigmatic leap forward in interface technology!
Get ready to lose yourself in videogames—literally. In May, the Excalibur Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas installed the first public Virtusphere, a human-sized hamster ball that lets you move through virtual worlds by walking, running, or crawling inside it. Until now, the sphere has been used primarily for military and police training.
Now, wearing a virtual-reality visor, anyone inside can play a first-person-shooter game or tour historic Russian architecture.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.