I think you can learn a lot about where an industry is going based on what the big players are willing to spend money and manpower researching. We can already see and hear the virtual world, but what if we could actually touch it?
That's what Microsoft is hoping to do with this research. The team at Microsoft have developed two touch controllers that give haptic feedback - you can feel virtual objects with your fingertips.
It looks to me like it will still be a few years before this technology filters down from research, to prototypes, to an actual marketable product. After all, it's limited to just one finger at the moment, and the device is pretty bulky right now.
With that said, Microsoft is clearly interested, and it's a safe bet that other companies will be making similar moves. Keep an eye on this - better yet, keep your finger on it.
While virtual reality has given us whole new worlds to explore, it hasn’t really fulfilled its promise to fully immerse us within those worlds. VR allows us to see and hear the virtual worlds, but as far as feeling, smelling, or even tasting them, we’re not there yet. However, the guys at Microsoft may have brought us one step closer.