Virtual reality, at its core, is all about immersion. This is the reason why products designed to enhance the experience, such as multi-directional treadmills and other certain weird contraptions, exist.
Haptic feedback suits are also one of such experience-enhancing “tools”, and the idea of its implementation is perhaps currently best represented by this new Kickstarter project.
Reacting to the (Virtual) World Around You
Hardlight VR Suit at a glance, doesn’t seem different from all other previously released haptic feedback vests. It is equally designed to react to all kinds of situations within your VR world. However, it works by using both tracking and positional feedback to vibrate pads around the suit at certain times and rates. This in turn theoretically gives a better illusion of a sensory reaction to whatever it is you are virtually interacting with.
If there is anything that the old rumble paks and dual shock controllers have taught us, is that timing and intensity generally improve haptic vibration features. Why would the concept persist for so long in gaming if it wasn’t? Hence, the idea to specify timing and intensity further with positioning and tracking already kind of showcase the concept’s practical viability.
In the case of Hardlight VR Suit, as long as the application or game is compatible, almost any interaction with the environment will cause a specific haptic feedback.
Slashed by a sword? Certain pads will vibrate to give that feeling of something striking through your body. Standing in the middle of a rain? The VR suit will vibrate lightly on all sides and angles where you are supposed to get wet. Using arm shields to block hard projectiles? Your arm pads would then vibrate in accordance to the hits that you are currently taking. At least, that’s how NullSpace VR has advertised the product so far.
Acting to the (Virtual) World Around You
Aside from enhancing haptic feedback via tracking and positioning, the Hardlight VR Suit also advertises a few other additional perks in gaming. Personal avatars, for instance, will be directly visible to the user, instead of simply seeing floating VR tools and weapons. The development team explains that this feature stresses the importance of being able to see your own body in VR to amp up the immersion level.
Another introduced gaming-related feature is audio mode. With audio mode, any game can be made compatible with the VR suit, by using actual in-game sounds to generate haptic feedback.
The Hardlight VR Suit is designed to be compatible Oculus and Vive, with upcoming updates to make it soon compatible for PSVR. A rather hefty minimum of $499 pledge is required to avail the early bird version of the VR suit in Kickstarter. The suits themselves are slated for commercial availability (to pledgers) as early as September later this year.