Amphibian SCUBA Diving Simulator: MIT researchers give disabled a way to explore underwater life
Scuba diving as an experience transports you into an altogether different world, and unfortunately having a phobia of deep water, I never managed to experience it myself. For people like me who are too afraid to venture into the depth of waters to explore a completely different world, researchers at MIT Media Lab’s Living Mobile Group have developed a SCUBA diving simulator. The research led by Dhruv Jain, a Master of Science candidate in the MIT Media Lab, who is partially deaf, along with Mishra Sra has come-up with the SCUBA simulator to help people with disability or water aqua phobia.
The diving simulator called as Amphibian does this through a convenient terrestrial simulator which hangs the person horizontally in position with suspended harnesses which has a motion platform. Paired with an Oculus Rift DK2 virtual reality headset and headphones, the Amphibian SCUBA diving simulator gives the subject a divine feeling of being underwater. To simulate other effects like drag, temperature variation and buoyancy; sensors do the job.
The Peltier modules on participant’s wrist simulate temperature change, inflatable airbag under the torso allows the subject to control ascent/descent via breathing. Also the body rises up or down using gas sensors attached to snorkel which measures the amount of air inhaled/exhaled.
To further enhance the diving experience, they have embedded flex sensors and inertial measurement units (IMUs) in the gloves and legs to track movement. All this combines to create the virtual reality environment the user is swimming in and also interact with it just like in the real world. For example touching a fish or grabbing a rock would feel just like real thanks to the inflatable pad in the palms of the glove.
All-in-all this a novel use of virtually reality application and a boon for people who always wanted to experience the depths of oceans, but due to some reason couldn’t do so.