Providing Haptics to Walls & Heavy Objects in Virtual Reality by Means of Electrical Muscle Stimulation


We explore how to add haptics to walls and other heavy objects in virtual reality. When a user tries to push such an object, our system actuates the user’s shoulder, arm, and wrist muscles by means of electrical muscle stimulation, creating a counter force that pulls the user’s arm backwards. Our device accomplishes this in a wearable form factor. In our first user study, participants wearing a head-mounted display interacted with objects provided with different types of EMS effects. The repulsion design (visualized as an electrical field) and the soft design (visualized as a magnetic field) received high scores on "prevented me from passing through" as well as "realistic". In a second study, we demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach by letting participants explore a virtual world in which all objects provide haptic EMS effects, including walls, gates, sliders, boxes, and projectiles.

Proceedings of the 2017 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems