I just found out about this project by HCII called Wireality. The team has developed a system that helps VR users feel virtual objects:
The device uses a wearable, modular spring loaded cable system that can control the force upon individual joints in the hand and arm. They can programmatically control the joints based on the virtual objects that the users are seeing in the headset. The headset must communicate with the cable device to adjust the cables depending on the form of the object. They have successfully simulated the sensation of touching planes, poles, and a few irregular objects using Wireality.
This project refers to past research on modular motors, measuring 3D positioning, and even a 1997 research paper called “WireMan” which worked on a portable cable system that could also “render” the sensation of touching 3D objects.
Cathy Fang, Yang Zhang, Matthew Dworman, and Chris Harrison. 2020. Wireality: Enabling Complex Tangible Geometries in Virtual Reality with Worn Multi-String Haptics. In Proceedings of the 2020 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’20). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, 1–10. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1145/3313831.3376470