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Virtual Reality Now Lets You Feel Heat and Cold

Virtual reality takes your eyes and ears into another world.  However, it is not quite immersive, however.  So, by making you feel sensations like pain, cold, and heat, Tegway wishes to take you one step nearer.

The company demonstrated its ThermoReal technology in the HTC Vive X accelerator occasion last week in San Francisco while visiting my friends at YouGoggle.  ThermoReal developed a thermoelectric device that can generate cold and heat upon demand and translate that feeling into your hands as you hold touch controllers in VR.  It’s a kind of human-machine interface.

Tegway created a semiconductor device which heats up on one side once you enter power into it.  When you put power another side gets cold.  This type of technology is already utilized in wine refrigerators, which generate cold without vibrations because there are no moving parts (that is what you need to preserve the wine better).

The device can become hotter based on the level of the electrical current.  I put on a VR headset and held the ThermoReal controller.  I felt heat as something flaming touched.  And when I touched something cold, I felt the coldness.  And to make me feel pain, the ThermoReal device generated both heat and cold in precisely the same moment.  It was an experience.

But it is an intriguing landmark on the road to full immersion.  Applications which use the tech could draw you into an experience through over sound and visuals.

I have tried several different thermal haptic devices during the course of my VR reporting, but nothing that really impressed me.  Normally the effects are difficult to notice because they don’t feel cold or particularly hot, and they take so long to activate that it is hard to market the illusion which the result is being caused by something happening in the virtual world.

I got to try the ThermoReal thermoelectric skin in the demo day in San Francisco the other week and it’s led me to become a believer in the value of thermal haptics for the first time.

Tegway has filed several patent applications from the fields of fabricating flexible thermoelectric device technology, hardware design and software, and applications calculations for thermal realism.

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