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30 June 2017

New Virtual Reality Technology Planned to Create Sensations of Temperature

VR is the immersive gaming experience that’s gaining incredible appeal in the mainstream, and manufacturer Tegway are planning on boosting sales of the virtual reality gear with the development of their new ThermoReal technology. The flexible thermoelectric device is planned to one day be integrated into VR controllers and gloves to create a sensation of cold or warmth when held by the player.

This development is revolutionary for the gaming technology which so far has excelled in creating visual and auditory immersion, but has done little for the other senses. Through the use of electrical currents, one side of the device can heat up while the other can become cold to reflect the stimuli in-game. The controllers can even create a sensation of pain when both sides of the device are activated at the same time, something that certainly has to make you question how engaged in virtual reality we want to become.

The ThermoReal technology is quick to react to changes in temperature onscreen, to the point that it’s raised concerns over the potential of injury. According to the developers of the device, the temperature of it can only rise to 4°C above body temperature. However, due to the rate that it increases, this can signal to the brain that the heat is more severe than it actually is and lead you to believe you’ll get burnt.

The potential for these thermoelectric devices with VR is extremely far-reaching, with the possibility of creating the feeling of temperature movement across the skin and replicating experiences like a weapon overheating in your hand as part of the selling point. It’s still going to be several years until this technology has commercial prospects, especially with all the kinks that need to be worked out, but the capability of it to intensify the virtual reality experience is definitely there. 

James Darvill

James is a passionate scriptwriter and reluctant poet with a talent for the dystopian. When he’s not staying up late watching the Simpsons he’s beating the world at Mario Kart, always with a glass of wine in hand.