We experience virtual reality by proxy through glasses and controllers, but a new mask could make us feel a potentially harrowing experience firsthand in the Metaverse.
Virtual reality and augmented reality are supposed to allow us to easily go places we can’t otherwise physically get to or experience things that would be impossible under the laws of physics.
Being able to walk on the surface of Mars without worrying about how to breathe is one of the many experiences that the Metaverse promises to deliver, sooner or later.
Since its creation, virtual reality has been implemented in different areas: games, education, medicine, tourism, entertainment and video games.
It has been in this last area where this technology has gained great popularity thanks to the immersive experience for the player.
However, there are those who criticize these experiences as clearly fake and unbelievable, since you can only see but not feel or smell the real thing.
For better or worse, a team of researchers is trying to at least replicate what it is like to breathe in virtual worlds, but it may feel too real to the point that our brains and bodies are unable to distinguish what is real and what is not.
This is a simulation created by a group of researchers at the Salzburg University of Applied Sciences in Austria, in which the experience of suffocating in a fire is recreated.
It is worth mentioning that this is not the first time that those involved in this idea are looking for new ways to generate simulations that recreate horrible experiences lived in reality.
How the choking simulator works
Designated with the name AirRes Mask, this device has been designed so that it can be used with a VR headset such as meta Quest 2, thus allowing to involve the user’s breathing within the virtual experience.
In terms of its operation, this mask offers two uses. The first one as a mechanism to control breathing and provide a greater sense of immersion within a virtual reality experience that involves carrying out tasks such as blowing a virtual candle, playing a wind instrument or inflating a balloon.
The other use given to this mask would be to influence the direction taken by the virtual experience depending on the intensity and variations manifested in the user’s breathing.
As for the asphyxiation simulation, the team points out that this could be used as a training method for firefighters in the sense of making them physically experience the lack of oxygen inside a burning structure.
Such would be the immersion in this context that those involved would even feel the onset of tunnel vision, but without the fatality involved in the risk of such an incident in real life.
The AirMask could also be used in flight simulators to replicate the variations experienced in breathing during the incidence of G-forces in high-speed maneuvers.