Real scuba diving involves far more than just putting on the mask. So it makes sense that a virtual reality simulator replicating the experience would go beyond a headset.
The Amphibian VR simulator, developed by computer researcher Dhruv Jain and his team, is a full-body system that mimics a buoyant sensation and even makes your hands get colder as you "dive deeper."
Jain, who has a hearing disability, started scuba diving when he arrived at the MIT Media Lab. For him, the activity dulled the senses in a relaxing way and felt liberating. So he came up with the idea to share that experience with others who are physically unable to dive, scared to go, live too far from large bodies of water or can't afford the cost.
Amphibian works on land without any water. First the "diver" gets positioned on a torso spring, and puts each arm and leg into sets of slings that attached to elastic bands. The elastic bands are connected to sliders that move along the simulator frame, providing underwater-like drag force. A cushion in the torso spring will inflate as the person breathes, sending the body up and down slightly.