Concept Jacket Enhances VR Simulation

Man using VR simulator.

The Verge is reporting that a design collaboration between several big-name companies could change the way virtual reality is experienced.

Currently, VR headsets dominate this technological landscape, and much of the experience is restricted to being able to visualize a simulated event. Now new research has determined to add a new component to the mix, taking sight and sound and adding other physical sensations.

MIT Media Lab and Carnegie Mellon University have partnered with an unlikely bedfellow – Disney – to develop a concept jacket that’s meant to simulate the physical experience. Airbags line the haptic “force jacket” and Disney’s research arm says it creates a more immersive experience as sensors direct force onto certain areas of your body. The jacket is controlled by software that uses valves to inflate and deflate airbags in the chest and arms.

The trio of researchers are still testing different options for the jacket, and they claim to be studying effects such as a racing heartbeat, a hand tap on the shoulder, and a bug crawling up your arm, with further efforts to control things more specifically, such as how fast the bug is crawling.

Applications for virtual reality have gained traction in the industrial market when it comes to training, and companies use headsets to help workers gain spatial awareness and practice skills without putting themselves or others at risk of an accident. Adding other sensations like those seen in the force jacket could help mimic conditions like weight and pressure that one might experience in the field, adding a more realistic component to the training process.

 

Image Credit: Igor Sinkov/Shutterstock.com

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