Samsung seems to be putting together something particularly distinctive for its Gear VR headset, along with their new Entrim 4D headphones. The 4D mention is by no means a scientific term relating to Minkowski’s theory regarding how space and time work, but it will surely make you experience another dimension of virtual reality altogether. And it’s certainly another proof of where this technology is heading.
During the SXSW festival that was held in Texas, Samsung showcased just another fascinating facet of the immersive sensorial experience that the Gear VR wants to provide to its users. Coming as an enhancing accessory to the VR headset, the Entrim 4D headphones features a technology that is able to trick the part of the human ear that is in charge of sensing motion and allowing us to keep our balance – the inner ear.
By fiddling with what our brain can perceive, even when motionless – say, when sitting on a chair – we can experience more than just what our eyes can see. According to Samsung’s press release, the technology that has been packed into the Entrim 4D headphones combines various algorithms with something that is known as galvanic vestibular stimulation. Samsung states that this is a tested and safe technique that can be applied in VR technology.
The way it works is that the technology in the headphones is able to send some electric signals to a particular nerve in the ear, working both ways. On one end, the user perceives motion; on the other end, the VR headset synchronizes what you perceive your body movement is with the movements in the immersive video content that you are looking at through the goggles.
This will give the user the sensation of direction, speed and orientation even when the user is completely immobile in real life. This deepens the level of immersion for future VR applications, even more, bringing a whole new approach to what developers and engineers believe virtual reality is supposed to be experienced like.
However, there is one concern surrounding this vast and swift advancement of full immersion into the virtual reality. It is already known that even without this ‘4D element’ that Samsung plans to bring to its headset, some individuals have already experienced a degree of vertigo, confusion or disorientation caused by virtual reality applications.
While some argue that the nausea that some users experience is caused by the very lack of sensorial experience of motion, something that the galvanic vestibular stimulation would fix, others disagree. In fact, they believe that this kind of stimulus may only increase the sensation even further.
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