If there’s one market that’s sure to change the way we do things in the future, it’s VR. The applications aren’t yet fully understood and many companies are just beginning to dip their toes in the virtual water, but in typical Samsung fashion they’re one of the first companies to begin experimenting with the new medium. They already have their Gear VR (pictured above) which works by sliding a Samsung phone into the headset where it acts as the screen. The problem is that movement occurring in the headset while the user is stationary can lead to some nasty side effects like nausea and motion sickness. To combat this the company has been showing off their Entrim 4D headphones at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas.
The main purpose of the Entrim’s isn’t to be the most portable pair of cans while commuting to work, it’s to trick your brain. To make the experience fully immersive Samsung is tricking the next most important sense when it comes to depth perception: hearing. The headphones use algorithms and something called Galvanic Vestibular Stimulation (GVS) to trick the inner ear into thinking it is motion. The vestibule system is responsible for balance and spatial orientation, so it makes sense that this is the area Samsung would target.
Every VR headset tricks the eyes, but that’s only one of the five senses.
Samsung claims that this technology works by sending small electrical signals into your ear which coincide with what is happening in the virtual world that the user is experiencing. So if you bank a hard right in a virtual game, the sounds you hear will reflect that. Think of it like surround sound for your ears. In the official press release creative director Steve Jung said, “Virtual reality shouldn’t be experienced only with the eyes”, and Samsung seems to have figured out how to dupe two of the five senses.
Gaming is just the beginning, and it’s hard to say for sure what some of the other practical uses will be. Still, whatever they may be it’s good to know that the motion sickness problem might be fixed. The prototype is fairly bulky but that’s to be expected since it’s – well, a prototype. Hopefully when (or if) these headphones become available to the public they’ll be a bit sleeker and less obtrusive. Naturally, the headphones aren’t available for consumers just yet so if you’re one of those people who have a Gear VR and experience motion sickness, you’re out of luck for now. But the team behind the Entrim 4D headphones hope to use these to rid the world of nausea, in VR at least.