Imagine the feeling of big, green snake slithering up your body and squeezing the rib cage. But strange enough, it is not a spine-chilling frightening rather quite an exhilarating feeling.
To delve deep, this is a virtual reality simulation, the feeling or realization that the snake isn’t reality but the feeling occurring in the chest is. This is the work of the Force jacket by Disney. In addition to seeing the snake through a virtual reality headset strapped to the face, users are also wearing a jacket filled with airbags that mimic the pressure and vibrations of a serpent moving across the body. The Force Jacket is actually meant to give a heightened sensation that goes beyond playing a video game or watching a movie.
To know more, this special jacket is being developed by researchers at Disney to help take the VR experience to another level at a time when the adoption rate has been quite slow. After this, connected to computer software that controls a series of inflatable compartments, the Force Jacket can, in fact, reproduce a variety of sensations, adding new kinds of perception and depth to VR. So, now in collaboration with researchers at MIT Media Lab and Carnegie Melon University, Disney hopes that this jacket would be able to augment VR experiences typically limited to visual displays seen through the headset and simple hand vibrations felt through joysticks.
In fact, the researchers associated with this endeavor wrote in a published paper that, “The primary motivation of this research was to enhance the entertainment value of [headmounted display]-based visual VR experiences in games and movies, by providing on-body force feedback”.
More on the Force Jacket states of 26 inflatable compartments which can reproduce more than a dozen “feel effects,” such as a hug, a punch, or a snake slithering across the body. These sensations are actually created by modifying the speed, force, and duration of inflating or deflating the airbags. The pressure and vibrations can also correspond with visual displays, allowing users to feel the actions they perform and witness in a VR game.
The researchers have in fact developed three very interesting prototypes of VR simulations to showcase the jacket. The first one placed a person in a snow-covered front lawn in the middle of a snowball fight, the second another allowed users to feel a “friendly” cartoon snake slither up their torso and squeeze their chest. The third simulation puts the user’s avatar shirtless in a bathroom, as they see and feel their bodies transform into a “muscular hero,” as their arms bulge like a bodybuilder’s.
The researchers have then described the Force Jacket’s vest being made out of a re-purposed life vest, with the flotation foam removed, the total weight, including tubes and airbags, is 5 pounds. The sleeves can adjust to fit different body types, in addition to a Velcro used to secure the jacket in place.
Developers have actually developed the slow adoption of VR on a multitude of factors, listing the high cost of headsets, which costs $400, i.e. around, ₹26,700 or more, the initial awkwardness and disorientation of moving through virtual space, and more fundamental hang-ups over the creation of a new medium and what value it offers to consumers. However, VR also faces a crucial marketing dilemma. Now, according to experts, With VR, consumers are hesitant. Nonetheless, engineers and developers are forging ahead.