This project was published as a Late Breaking Work at CHI'23 ( https://dl.acm.org/doi/10.1145/3544549.3585674 ).
In this paper, we explored the possibility to use VR to create what we call “Virtual Pain” : a feeling of physical pain higher than what is physically experienced by someone.
We built an VR application where the user sees their virtual finger dislocate, while their real finger is only bent to a safe angle by a haptic prototype.
We observed that in the VR condition, participants reported a higher level of pain, despite the physical stimulus being exactly the same.
Virtual pain might have uses to create more impactful experiences, but it raises important ethical concerns : what if users of social VR apps (unfortunately prone to harassment) could inflict pain on other people ?