According to Futurism, a company in the UK has developed what it calls a “Teslasuit” that allows the wearer to feel things in the virtual world, everything from a hug to a clout across the face.
Ultimately, the device works by using integrated EMS (Electro Muscular Stimulation). The range can vary—from a gentle breeze to the impact of a speeding bullet…the latter may not sound like a terribly enjoyable experience, but of course, it is simulating the sensation (not giving you the full-on experience). The team hopes that combining EMS with VR will deliver a more interactive experience for users.
“Technically speaking, the Teslasuit is a series of sensors that allows the user to feel the sensation of movements in the virtual reality space. Different wearable accessories, called modules, are available separately. The modules include the T-Belt, the T-Glove, and a jumpsuit known as the ‘Smart Textile.’ However, when added together, they function like a suit” (4)
The Teslasuit can also allow the wearer to feel temperature changes, heat and cold.
Possible Uses for Tselasuit
The applications of a Teslasuit are limited only by the imagination, especially when combined with a headset such as Oculus.
Suppose you are playing your favorite shooting game. You’ll not only be able to see the enemy and hear the sound of gunfire, but you will be able to feel the environment, such as the wind, the ground beneath your feet, the walls of buildings, and so on.
Some games might even include the sensation of a bullet or a laser blast hitting your body, albeit likely toned down a bit from the reality.
The Teslasuit would likely be used for more serious simulations. Soldiers would experience a number of combat scenarios without having to be transported to a remote location for exercises. SWAT teams could learn how to clear virtual buildings. Fire fighters would train in a variety of situations involving burning buildings. Athletes would practice their sports in virtual worlds, which include the sensation of being tackled or tagged out, in football and baseball respectively. Astronauts could simulate EVAs on a variety of alien worlds.
The company has already developed a paintball game that uses the suit. Other applications include medicine, education, and telecommunications. Imagine being able to touch a loved one while seeing and hearing him or her from afar.
When Will It Be Available?
No discussion of how the sense of touch will bring new meaning to the concept of virtual reality would be complete without mentioning sex.
The Teslasuit is not currently equipped to handle virtual sex, but you can imagine the possibilities with some added attachments and software. The sex can occur with virtual people or between two people wearing the Teslasuit. The idea gives a new meaning to the phrase “love from afar”.
The company is conducting a Kickstarter campaign (5) to raise funds to start bringing the Teslasuit to market. It hopes to have the suit available later in 2016