Disney Research, along with Carnegie Mellon University and MIT, have released details on a new project called the Force Jacket: Pneumatically-Actuated Jacket for Embodied Haptic Experiences. This jacket, when worn with a virtual reality headset, simulates anything from being hugged to snake crawling across the body.
“With affordable VR headsets becoming readily available, onbody haptic feedback has become an increasingly attractive area of research. Researchers have taken several different approaches to enhance the strong visual and spatial effects of Virtual Reality (VR) by allowing users to experience physical haptic feedback on the body.”
The study goes into detail about the specifics of the jacket. It consists of 26 air compartments with a compressor that supplies the air flow. It is designed so that the tubing, air compartments, valves, etc. are effective but yet, not bulky. The jacket weighs in at about 5 pounds.
Disney still has work to do and progress is being made. ” At this stage of work, the goal is to develop core technology for the Force Jacket that will be sufficient for basic psychophysical assessment and to design and test an initial set of effects.” Testing on the jacket included the following feel effects: motorcycle vibration, muscle enhancement, calm heartbeat, adult hug, snake slithering around body, bug crawling up arm, snowball hit on chest, fist punch on side, heavy rain, slime dripping on back, light rain, child hug, hand tap on shoulder and racing heartbeat.
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Images copyright: Disney Research