One of the keys to making virtual reality more real could be predictive force-feedback techniques:
Touch-sensitive force feedback systems are primarily associated with videogames, but they serve a more serious purpose in applications such as long-distance robotic surgery, where the transmitted sensation of moving a scalpel through tissue could literally mean the difference between life and death. In fact, the limitations of these so-called haptic (touch-based) systems have been a stumbling block to more widespread usage of real-time collaborative applications, from telemedicine to remote repairs of satellites, undersea rigs or other sensitive equipment.
The problem involves latency, which is inherent in all long-distance communications, but a joint research team from the Britain and the United States have devised a novel way to enhance haptic interaction across the void. Typically, latency is not a major problem with current video games that use force feedback, since the physics simulations in games are not extremely precise and the timing is not particularly critical. However, with applications that do require precise haptic information, users often find that their actions become increasingly disjointed as latency creeps in and the touch feedback system slowly loses synchronization.