South Korea Develops Touch Tech for a ‘Hyper-realistic Metaverse’

South Korea Develops Touch Tech for a 'Hyper-realistic Metaverse'

South Korea is developing systems that could make touching and motion in the metaverse real. It is part of an effort to improve immersion in virtual worlds and gaming environments.

The Korea Research Institute of Standards and Science, or Kriss, is working with dozens of researchers from 12 local universities and research organizations to create what it called a “hyper-realistic metaverse that can be touched,” according to a statement.

Also read: Disney’s Holotile Floor Could Help Users Walk in the Metaverse

Haptic standards and systems

Kriss has established the Convergence Research Center for Meta-Touch at its headquarters in Daejeon in central Korea to lead the development of haptic standards and systems for the metaverse.

The technology, which includes hardware, is being developed at a cost of 39 billion Korean won, or about $30 million. Researchers will carry out “five convergence projects” over five years, Kriss said in a statement published on Tuesday, Mar. 12.

Basically, it means the Convergence Research Center for Meta-Touch is looking to build technology that could bring the sense of touch to the metaverse, bridging the virtual and physical worlds.

Min Seok Kim, head of the Center, said the institution is developing “high-performance haptic devices and software.” This will include things like sensors, actuators for reproducing hyper-realistic tactile sensations as well as rendering tech for touch experiences.

“[Our] ultimate goal is to organically integrate these technologies to create a combined haptic system that enhances immersion in metaverse and gaming environments,” Seok Kim said.

“Traditional metaverse environments, focusing on audiovisual technologies, have limitations in enhancing realism and immersion because they do not reflect the physical contact occurring in real life,” he added.

Seok Kim explained that haptic interfaces, a type of software that enables natural interactions in the virtual world, are starting to gain “attention as an essential tech for the hyper-realistic metaverse.” He hopes Korea will be at the forefront of developing such technology.

South Korea Develops Touch Tech for a 'Hyper-realistic Metaverse'

US metaverse technology monopoly

While the building of devices that can measure and display tactile sensations is still in its early stages compared to auditory devices, Korea says it is keen to limit the U.S. dominance in the sector.

Kriss accused the U.S. of monopolising “fundamental technology for haptic interaction.” It said because of a lack of standards, game and metaverse creators have been forced to build technologies that are limited to specific haptic hardware.

“This results in lowering the device compatibility and restricting market entry,” said Seok Kim, adding that the Center’s project wiill enhance Korea’s “competitiveness in the metaverse industry and contribute to the preoccupancy of the haptic market.”

Some of the organizations taking part in Kriss’ metaverse venture include the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, the National Research Council of Science and Technology,  Kyung Hee University, Sungkyunkwan University and Korea National University of Transportation.

South Korea isn’t the only one looking at haptics or building stuff to make virtual worlds feel more real. There are new experiments demonstrating how the technology could be used to make the metaverse experience more immersive and realistic.

Meta is also developing photorealistic avatars for the metaverse, as showcased by CEO Mark Zuckerberg last year. More recently, Disney revealed Holotile, a kind of floor it says could help people move around in any direction in virtual and augmented reality.

And German electronics firm Rohde & Schwarz is testing animated avatars that use augmented reality to make video calls in the metaverse and other extended reality-based applications.

In China, researchers at the City University of Hong Kong unveiled “an advanced wireless haptic interface system” called WeTac in December 2022 that allows people to touch each other in the metaverse.

Image credits: Shutterstock, CC images, Midjourney, Unsplash.