Virtual Reality Can Now turn you invisible
By Shakilur Rahmam, Junior Writer
An illusion occurs when there is a false perception of the senses. There are many types of illusions; using many different senses. The McGurk effect, Optical illusions, and the Body-Transfer illusion are all different examples of the brain being fooled. Illusions don’t have to just appear during art galleries and magic shows. However, during our everyday life, some of the things we do actually correlate with your brain having a false perception. For example, the olfactory illusion can be used to manipulate the nose to change how you taste food. If you cover your nose, your brain can’t distinguish taste because of it’s connection to your nose. This can make an onion, apple, or pear all taste the same.Today these type of illusions can be placed into larger scales. They may be used in a magic show, create 3D movies, or enhance gaming experiences.
With the enhancement of technology, things have become much more advanced. Today’s media greatly supports this new movement, as many movies such as The Matrix, Back to the Future, and Tron all promote it. Traced back to the early 1950’s however, people have been trying to manipulate the world around them and engross themselves in an alternate reality. At first this was done using old-fashioned red/blue 3D glasses, then with video games, and now it has finally come to virtual reality as a whole. The Oculus Rift is one of the first Virtual Reality Headsets to take advantage of this desire to immerse oneself into another world. It has been used and tested by many of the Youtube community, and tested for its practicality. Other than minor headaches and dizziness, so far most of the major problems have been eye strains, nausea, and seizures. Of course, this has always been present when attempting to go into an alternate reality. It is most likely caused by the brain being confused from the senses being manipulated.
A big part of going to an alternative reality is not just to change the environment around you, but also change yourself. For the first time ever, virtual reality can also give you the illusion of the sense of touch. While it is not exactly the sense of touch, it does give you the reflexes for it. Virtual reality can now make a person think they are invisible. This is achieved by putting the virtual reality headset on the subject, while at the same time putting a camera across them that streams live footage to the subject. The scientist then uses a paint brush to stroke the subject while at the same time stroke the air of where the subject’s body would’ve been; had the subject been where the camera was placed. This eventually leads the subject to believe that they are standing where the footage from the camera was, and tricks them into thinking that they are simply invisible. To put this into more extreme circumstances, the scientist then can thrash a knife to the location of the camera footage, which makes the subject’s heart race and feel threatened as if they were really getting threatened by the knife. Although it won’t cause actual harm, it does prove that the subject did indeed feel as if they had control over an invisible body.
Surprisingly enough, this technique can also be used for positive changes in the body. For one thing, having an invisible body allows the subject to feel free and in control. This in turn significantly reduces levels of social anxiety. A doctoral student by the name of Arvid Guterstam explained that “We saw that in the invisible body, there was a reduction in both the physical stress response and in the subjectively perceived stress.” It is compared to looking at an audience while you feel yourself standing there, to simply being invisible and an audience facing towards your direction. This test is very different without the brush however. If the brush is not used, then the subject still remains aware and conscious of their own body.
This experiment is a grander example of an illusion that many people and scientists alike have been playing around with. It is very similar to the Rubber Hand Illusion, which a person puts both hand on a table. One hand is then put under the table and replaced by a rubber hand. The rubber hand and the hand left on the table are both stroked using an object. This will trigger the brain into thinking that the rubber hand is the subject’s hand. The person doing the experiment then gets a hammer and slams the rubber hand, which will cause the subject to flinch; thinking that it is still their hand.
Scientists are currently looking to see how turning invisible can further help people cope with anxieties. Someday a grander scale of virtual reality will take place that will also replace what we have achieved today. Technology has been proven to be exponentially expanding, and that trend hasn’t stopped yet. Ever since the landing on the moon, science has been greatly praised and encouraged. There are no more “nerds” in today’s world, and people are pushing to achieve things one step at a time. It may seem absurd today, but Abraham Lincoln would’ve never thought about planes being available today. Sometimes a simple idea can turn into something much greater, that people at the time wouldn’t even be able to conceive of.