Researchers at Stanford University have created ShapeShift, a robot which can allow users to don a VR headset, look at a set of objects, and then feel them as though they were actually holding the item in question.
According to Gizmodo, ShapeShift looks like a desktop computer, but features a dense grid of "pins" on top. When the users reaches out their hand within the VR world in order to touch a virtual object, ShapeShift's pins extend and retract to form a representation of that object, which the user can then use their real hands to touch and feel in the real world.
The technology still has a long way to go, with the pins only being able to mimic basic objects, but researchers believe that if the density of the rods was increased, more detailed and authentic-feeling shapes could be rendered.
In the future, it is hoped that they will be able to create a room full of rods, so a user could walk around in a space that mimics a variety of terrain including climbing over hills and through streams.
The innovative technology comes as robotics continues to grow around the world, with China launching its first person-less bank, and an artificial machine even putting in a bid to run for mayor in Tokyo, Japan.
Amazon is also set to be developing new robotic technology, with a home robot machine that could carry out menial tasks for its customers.