There are numerous Oculus Quest 2 add-ons you can find in the market today that promise to enhance your VR experiences, from 4D Skyrim scented candles to $20,000 VR boots, but none that actually take your breath away. This could be set to change with the advent of a device that makes you look like a certain gas mask toting Metal Gear Solid character.
Researchers at Salzburg University of Applied Sciences have crafted the ‘AirRes Mask’ for VR headsets like the Oculus Quest 2, which “precisely and robustly measures a user’s breathing” to repurpose as an input method (via ExtremeTech). Demonstrating the functionality,
Psycho Mantis the test subject blows into a harmonica, holds their breath to stabilise a gun, and blows out candles on a birthday cake. So far, so novel.
However, the resistance valve within the AirRes Mask also allows developers to “communicate the condition of a user’s virtual avatar or the effect of environmental conditions, such as smoke,” meaning it can effectively simulate suffocation, or shortness of breath.
Check out the video demonstration below:
Given this is an experimental bit of kit devised by university peers, don’t expect to see it hit the market anytime soon. Nonetheless, commercial iterations of the AirRes Mask could not only impact VR gaming but provide a safe way to acclimate emergency personnel such as firefighters to the dangerous environments they will face.
Image credit: Salzburg University of Applied Sciences / YouTube