If 3D televisions, motion-sensitive controllers and immersive online gaming still aren’t enough to entertain you, then researchers at the University of Pennsylvania might have what you’re looking for. Aptly named as Tactile Gaming Vest (TGV) – it’s a vest, embedded with finely tuned motors that mimic the sensations of on-screen characters. So the next time your friend shoots you in the back, you’ll be able to feel it!
“Ouch! That hurt!” So exclaimed one user of the University of Pennsylvania’s Tactile Gaming Vest (TGV) during last week’s demos at the IEEE Haptics Symposium, in Waltham, Mass. As conference participants steered their character in a shoot-em-up computer video game based on Half-Life 2, the vest variously smacked them and vibrated as they themselves got shot. Sometimes it smarted, depending on how tight the vest was on the user, or if the “shots” hit right on the collar bone. For me it was more like a series of surprise punches, says Saurabh Palan, a graduate student who works on the project.
The Tactile Gaming Vest (TGV) takes things to a new level entirely. The player wears the motorized vest which is hooked up to the game and can recognize bullets, heat and knives. So when you get shot in the shoulder, you get a motorized impact in that spot. Caught near an explosion? You’ll feel yourself heating up. Sliced across the stomach? A quick, slicing vibration to your abs.
“The idea is to develop a haptic interface for first person shooting games,” says Saurabh. “The feeling of bullet hit, body impact and vibration or a shoulder tap will enhance the gaming experience and fun”, he adds. “It’s not all play with the vest. It can be modified for real time simulation and training by the military”, says Palan.
It could also be fun for straight up action thrillers like Avatar, Iron Man or Die Hard. If this kind of vest could be linked to the movie while you watch it, Palan says, the experience would be that much more exciting. “You could feel like you’re in the role,” he says. “So every time Bruce Willis gets shot, you feel it.”
The experience is apparently close to a paintball excursion, but doesn’t hurt as much (fortunately). But for those who crave greater realism in their video games, this could be a good way to feel the pain without the bruises. At any rate, I believe that the next ten years of video game development are going to be pretty interesting. I wonder if by the end of this, hardcore gamers will end up being fit like athletes as games force players to mime reality and burn calories more and more. What do you think?