Mouth Haptics Invented By Frederik Pohl In 1965, CMU Now Has Prototype
The mouth is one of the most sensitive areas of the body; only the fingertips are more sensitive. But is it possible for VR/AR (virtual reality/augmented reality) devices to take advantage?
How about mouth haptics for VR using a special headset?
..the proximity of the mouth to the headset offers a significant opportunity to enable on- and in-mouth haptic effects, without needing to run wires or wear an extra accessory. However, consumers do not want to cover their entire face, let alone put something up against (or into) their mouth. For AR, the industry is trending towards glasses-like form factors, so as to preserve as much facial expression as possible for human-human communication. Even in VR, smaller headsets are the consumer trend, with the mouth exposed and unencumbered.
In this research, we built a thin, compact, beamforming array of ultrasonic transducers, which could be integrated into future headsets in a practical and consumer-friendly way. We use this hardware to focus air-borne acoustic energy onto the lips and into the mouth, creating sensations such as taps and continuous vibrations, which we can also animate along arbitrary 3D paths. In addition to the lips, our effects can be felt on the teeth and tongue. When coupled with coordinated graphical feedback, the effects are convincing, boosting realism and immersion. We built a variety of sensory demos, including raindrops, mud splatter, pushing through cobwebs, and crawling bugs. While in-air haptics using ultrasonic phased arrays is not new, we are the first to integrate the technology into a headset for use on the mouth and explore the rich application space.
Science fiction writer Frederik Pohl figured this out more than fifty years ago in his 1965 novel The Age of the Pussyfoot. In the novel, an amazing telecommunications device called a Joymaker can deliver more than just an audio message:
"Man Forrester, the personal callers are as follows:
...Adne Bensen: female, Universalist, Arcadian-Trimmer, twenty-three declared, five feet seven inches, experiencer-homeswoman, no business stated. Her kiss follows."
Forrester did not know what to expect but was pleasantly ready for anything.
What he got was indeed a kiss. It was disconcerting. No kissing lips were visible. There was a hint of perfumed breath, then a pressure on the lips - warm and soft, moist and sweet.
Startled, he touched his mouth. "How the devil did you do that?" he shouted.
"Sensory stimulation through the tactile net, Man Forrester..."
(Read more about Mouth Haptics)
Lots of other inventors and entrepreneurs have taken a stab at this idea: