Professor William Harwin has added an extra dimension to virtual reality (VR). His work enables us to touch and feel worlds that don’t exist.
At the University of Reading, William has developed one of the world's first sensory feedback systems that allows us to feel, grasp and manipulate simulated objects within virtual reality environments. His work focuses on understanding how sensory information is integrated from vision and touch during interactive tasks, allowing people to feel what they are touching as they pick up 3D simulated objects in VR worlds.
The technology that William and his colleagues at the University of Reading have developed is currently being used by the European Space Agency to carry out VR walk-throughs, simulating what it would feel like to walk on the surface of a comet. This advancement in VR also enables better training within the medical profession, by allowing trainees to practise their skills and increase their understanding before they qualify. For example, psychologists are able to interact and learn more about the workings of the brain, and trainee dentists can practise dental procedures in a virtual world before working on real-life patients.
William teaches his third and fourth year students to use and develop principles of haptic technology, encouraging them to develop more life-changing applications for the technology of the future.
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With multi-finger haptics, we are seeking to provide new ways of interacting in virtual worlds so as to enhance our abilities to experiment and learn in a digital world.Professor William Harwin, School of Biological Sciences