MIT’s virtual scuba simulator makes you feel like you are really underwater

MIT scuba simulator
MIT scuba simulator

Scuba diving certainly isn't for everyone.

When I traveled in Australia after graduating from college, I felt I was partially obligated to experience the Great Barrier Reef. Except for someone who literally cannot step on a boat without turning green, scuba diving there wasn't exactly my favorite expedition.

MIT's new virtual scuba simulator, called Amphibian, could offer those unable or hesitant to dive a cool way to still experience the ocean, though.

Created by Dhruv Jain, a master's of science candidate in MIT's Living Mobile Group, the simulator uses virtual reality and a suspended harness to create the feeling of swimming underwater.

Users simply put on an Oculus Rift headset and headphones and enter the harness in a way so they are lying on their torso. Sensors create the effect of buoyancy, drag, and temperature during the simulation. There's also an inflatable airbag under the torso that will inflate when the user breathes in and deflate on their exhale — creating the illusion of ascending and descending.

Jain also created gloves embedded with sensors so users can grab objects during the simulation, like a crab or shell, and feel the sensation of picking something up.

MIT VR scuba simulator
MIT VR scuba simulator

YouTube/Dhruv Jain

Amphibian is both a technological and artistic project for Jain. Jain, who is partially deaf, created the simulator so people can experience the liberating effects of disabilities.

“Underwater, our vital senses are dulled and warped.... But in these conditions, I experienced the kind of peace one can only expect to feel with the freedom of weightlessness," Jain wrote in an MIT press release.

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