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Insane VR technology lets you control another human's body. Seriously.

Insane VR technology lets you control another human's body. Seriously.
photo courtesy of shutterstock

The world of Virtual Reality (VR) is moving steadily forward with VR apps, the Oculus Rift headset and even Google's wacky Cardboard VR headset that you can build at home. But you won't believe what an Xbox Kinect, an Oculus Rift headset and a few wires can do.

Yifei Chai at the Imperial College London has developed a way for you to inhabit another body. Well, for a few minutes at least.

With his VR headset modifications and small electrodes placed on another person, your view through the Oculus Rift will show you not in your own body, but someone else's.

The science is a little complicated, but it makes for some fascinating results. Subject A wears a suit of electrodes that gently pulse the muscles, pushing and pulling the arms to match Subject B's movements.

Subject B is wearing the Oculus Rift, which is being fed data from a Kinect that scans and displays Subject A's movements. Subject B will feel and see as though they have completely switched bodies with Subject A. Click here to see it in action!

Although gaming is an obvious application, Chai says his system could be used to create empathy, in a similar way that "age simulation suits" can give an idea of physical limitations as we grow older. There is also interest in the device for rehabilitation, as muscle stimulation could recreate gestures in exercise regimes.

Right now the body-swap experiment can only stimulate 34 muscles in the arms and shoulder, but when upgraded graphics for the Oculus Rift are available later this year, Chai hopes to expand the movement to the entire body.

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