For science, this Oculus Quest 2 add-on can suffocate you

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image credits: markustatzgern

It’s not surprising that Oculus Quest 2 has some unusual accessories. Developers have long sought ways to improve VR’s immersive experience, and now there’s one that will literally take your breath away, courtesy to a group of Austrian academics.

A research team from Salzburg University of Applied Sciences has exhibited the AirRes Mask, a novel Oculus Quest 2 (since renamed Meta Quest 2) accessory.

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This strange-looking accessory, discovered by VRScout, aims to leverage a user’s breathing as an input method, giving “higher degrees of engagement and multi-sensory stimulation.”

The study team demonstrated some fresh examples in a video demonstration, which you may watch below. This device allows “breathing resistance to express contextual information such as unpleasant environmental circumstances,” directly impacting your avatar, in addition to blowing into a harp and steadying your breathing while pointing a rifle.

The AirRes Mask is equipped with a half-face respirator, sensor, and resistance disc to simulate suffocation. Before you get any odd notions, the purpose of the research team is to recreate “real-time breathing resistance” utilising a simulated firefighting demonstration to demonstrate how this technology replicates difficult environmental circumstances.

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Smoke quickly fills your virtual environment in this demo, and AirRes Mask restricts your breathing to imitate this sensation, reducing your avatar’s stamina as well. AirRes Mask returns your airflow once the fire has been quenched. It’s a method of increasing a user’s stress levels in order to better imitate real-life situations, making it excellent for new recruit training. However, because this is a prototype, don’t expect to purchase it anytime soon.

We haven’t seen the oddest VR add-on yet

We’ve seen a lot of bizarre VR peripherals before, all with varied degrees of usefulness. To keep things PG-13, lightweight headset straps, lens shields, controller grips, and bumpers for safeguarding your controllers are quite standard, but once we get into haptic vests and VR candles, things get a little more interesting.

This becomes impractical if you want to go the extra mile with immersion. Some firms have previously offered virtual reality exoskeletons, haptic gloves, and virtual reality chairs. There are plenty of inventive accessories to choose from, but they usually come with two significant negatives.

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You won’t be surprised to find that VR accessories can be rather costly, often exceeding the cost of even the most expensive headsets. They frequently take up a lot of room, which many of us don’t have. Still, I can see the allure of taking a quick walk on a VR treadmill if you really want to feel like you’re in a virtual environment, but I’ll skip the choking bit.

These are the top virtual reality headsets.

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