In research that has far-reaching ramifications into my favorite field of study — video games — a couple of scientists have figured out how to trigger out-of-body experiences in subjects. Yes, you could be made to feel like you were actually fighting zombies, rather than just watching a screen of zombies being slain. Whoa.
So how's it work? Well… it's complicated.
In the Swiss experiments, the researchers asked volunteers to stand in front of a camera while wearing video-display goggles.It sounds pretty trippy. Although we're a long way off from this integrating this technology into the PlayStation 4, it might just be a peek at what we have to look forward to. Awesome.
Through these goggles, the volunteers could see a camera view of their own back — a three-dimensional 'virtual own body' that appeared to be standing in front of them.
When the researchers stroked the back of the volunteer with a pen, the volunteer could see their virtual back being stroked either simultaneously or with a time lag.
The volunteers reported that the sensation seemed to be caused by the pen on their virtual back, rather than their real back, making them feel as if the virtual body was their own rather than a hologram.
Even when the camera was switched to film the back of a mannequin being stroked rather than their own back, the volunteers still reported feeling as if the virtual mannequin body was their own.
And when the researchers switched off the goggles, guided the volunteers back a few paces, and then asked them to walk back to where they had been standing, the volunteers overshot the target, returning nearer to the position of their 'virtual self'.