People Innovation Excellence

Tactile Gaming Vest Punches and Slices

So exclaimed one user of the University of Pennsylvania’s Tactile Gaming Vest (TGV) during yesterday’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.

Four solenoid actuators in the chest and shoulders in front, plus two solenoids in the back, give you the feeling of a gunshot, says Saurabh Palan, a graduate student who works on the project. In addition, vibrating eccentric-mass motors clustered against the shoulder blades make you feel a slashing effect as you get stabbed from behind. Currently there is no feedback from your own weapons as you fire, just from weapons aimed at you.

The solenoids and shoulder vibrators are controlled by custom electronics and linked to the game, so if your character gets shot from a certain direction, the appropriate solenoid “fires.” That makes it better than, say, laser tag, which makes your whole vest vibrate but doesn’t give you a hint as to where the shot came from. In that sense, then, the gaming vest is closer to a paintball excursion,…[Read more]


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