With virtual reality technology finally reaching levels of never-before-seen immersion, many are looking to make the technology fully lifelike. For some, this means making Metaverse kissing tech; for others, a VR mask to control air flow.
Salzburg University makes VR Mask
Researchers at Salzburg University, Austria have created a VR Mask that can suffocate users. Dubbed AirMask, the virtual reality peripheral is capable of restricting the airflow of a user.
Designed to increase “levels of interactivity and multi-sensory stimulation”, the mask provides adjustable “breathing resistance” to increase virtual immersion. The study mentions that the tech, alongside haptic devices, could help to make virtual experiences feel more like real life.
The AirMask uses “head-mounted gas sensors” to control the flow of air in real time. This is an alternative to “respiration belts” which are said to be less precise.
Researchers claim that the VR Mask “should not be harmful to users”. Alongside not being able to completely seal off airflow, users will also be able to “easily remove the device”. Future safety precautions will include a “sensor removes a set breathing resistance, when the connection to the software is lost”
Currently, only prototypes exist of the AirMask. However, the technology could — one day — become a niche add-on for VR headsets. Alternatively, it could become an integral asset for virtual training.
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What uses are there for the AirMask?
Researchers behind the AirMask prototypes claim that the technology is designed purely to increase immersion. In numerous examples, the tech is described as being able to make virtual interactions more lifelike such as creating resistance when blowing into a wind instrument which, in turn, would play that instrument in VR.
Another example used the tech for virtual training of firefighters. Using VR, trainee firefighters could learn how to use a multitude equipment as well as how dense smoke inhalation effects them. Additionally, with the US military using VR, AR and Metaverse training, this tech could be used to help recreate a live battlefield.
Of course, as with any technology, a mask that restricts breathing will absolutely be used for the lewd. With virtual strip clubs already a thing, we’re just a few years away from men online paying for a VR avatar of a cartoon character for breathplay. Like Thanos, it’s inevitable.