Gloves which change temperature based on environment in Virtual Reality (VR).

Ongoing project.

When:

August 2018 - Present

Team members:

Michael Gutehnsohn

Sophia Batchelor

Madi Hight

My role:

Prototyper, Interaction Designer, Unity Development

Tools used:

-Unity

-General fabrication tools

Created for CS 294

CONCEPT

Given my background in architecture, I was interested in exploring digital spatial design in virtual reality. I realized that current VR systems focused predominantly on audio and visual immersion; however, our other senses such as temperature affect our interpretation of a spatial experience - and a mismatch between the temperature of a virtual space and our physical sensations may break the feeling of true emotional immersion. For example, the following images each convey an expected temperature sensation:

HYPOTHESIS 

Applying controlled temperature changes to a VR experience will increase emotional immersion in the Virtual Reality environment. Because of the many thermoreceptors in the hand, a glove may be able to induce perceived whole-body temperature change.

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IMMERSION

CONSTRUCTION

I worked very closely with a fellow colleague whose background was in computer science - he proposed using a peltier device with a heat sink and fan to both heat and cool the gloves and I proposed using a thermistor to monitor the safety of the internal temperature of the gloves (which I had experience with only from my architectural engineering days). Since I was comfortable with physical fabrication I took on the challenge of building the gloves. After MANY failed prototypes I figured out how to compactly affix all of these components into a glove...

HARDWARE

My colleague handled assembling the electrical components onto a microcomputer. 

●Thermistors

●ADC MCP3002

●Active cooling fans

●UDP communication via Ethernet over USB

ENVIRONMENT DESIGN FOR TESTING

I also designed and built the environments to be run in the future user testing in Unity with another colleague. I was curious about if the localized temperature change we were inducing in the gloves would lead to a sense of whole-body temperature change so we made one environment that had an ambient cold temperature (mountain top) as well as an environment with a localized hot temperature (campfire).

PRELIMINARY/INFORMAL USER TESTING

Unfortunately, we were only able to run our survey and user testing on 3 participants before a deadline - however, all three participants mentioned that they felt an increased sense of immersion - particularly during the localized hot environment (campfire).

In the future we hope to build a more robust version and publish a study under an advisor.

“I feel like I’m really there because even though I’m looking up at the trees and not the campfire, I can still feel the presence of the fire at my hands.”

Copyright © 2019, Julia Park

julia.park@berkeley.edu