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Disney’s Force Jacket Simulates Feeling of Punches, Hugs

Disney’s Force Jacket Simulates Feeling of Punches, HugsDisney’s Force Jacket Simulates Feeling of Punches, Hugs

Disney has created a jacket that simulates physical sensations for its wearer, including the feeling of being punched, hugged or a snake slithering across their torso.

The Force Jacket, developed in collaboration with the MIT Media Lab and Carnegie Melon University, is lined with force sensors inside 26 airbags that inflate and deflate as per a computer’s instruction.

The targeted pressure and vibration generated by the bags creates sensation, allowing the wearer to ‘feel’ rainfall and other physical types of feedback, which could be coordinated with virtual reality headsets to create a more immersive experience, Inews.co.uk reported.

Many haptic technologies have previously focused on hands, the researchers pointed out in a paper describing the jacket’s capabilities, highlighting the need for bodily experiences as both VR and augmented technology develops.

The team developed a prototype vest with adjustable sleeves to accommodate wearers of differing heights and weights, using an old life vest with the inner flotation foam ripped out.

Once connected to a vacuum pump, effects the jacket was able to replicate during testing include the vibration of a motorbike, the feeling of enhanced muscles, a snake slithering around the wearer’s body and a bug crawling up their arm.

Wearers reported disliking the simulated sensation of being hit on the chest by a snowball, a fist punch to their side and a hand tap on their shoulder. The researchers created three VR experiences to accompany three sensations, a snowball fight game with a virtual character, a visualization of a snake wending its way around their body and “transforming into a muscular hero”.

“In the prototype VR application created, people stood in a virtual bathroom and watched (and felt) themselves transform into a muscular hero,” the researchers said.  “This could provide a powerful experience for gaming applications, where a playable character could become more muscular over the course of training. Heartbeat effects could also be used to control users’ sense of tension or anxiety, fatigue, etc.”

Other immersive VR demos are planned to take advantage of the jacket’s feedback, alongside new effects and sensations.

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