Diving allows us to observe the vast diversity of marine life in our
oceans, and gives us the privilege of exploring beautiful coral reefs, colourful
fishes and mysterious wrecks. However, only divers have the opportunity to
experience this –
Thanks to the researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
(MIT), a new diving simulator holds the promise of a complete dive experience
while remaining on dry land.
Called the Amphibian SCUBA diving simulator, this is a virtual reality
system which supersedes the current range of diving simulators (which are
limited to just visual and acoustic displays). Amphibian users lie on their stomachs
on a motion platform, with their arms and legs outstretched and placed in
suspended harnesses. Headphones provide the underwater sounds while a visual
diving mask shows them the complementary visual scenery.
In addition, various sensors and devices are used to simulate changes in
buoyancy, drag and temperature during the simulation, thus giving the user a
realistic diving experience without getting their feet wet.
The simulator had been specially designed for people who are physically
unable to dive or have a fear of diving. A member of the research team, Misha
Sra, described how the device helped her overcome her fear of water: “I wished
I could dive but to do that, I first had to get over my fear of water and learn
to swim, which seemed like an insurmountable hurdle. Amphibian was a great
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