Disney Research, MIT Media Lab, and Carnegie Mellon University have unveiled a new conceptual haptic force jacket that simulates physical experiences to people wearing the device. The force jacket is lined with airbags controlled by a computer that inflates and deflates the bags. Disney envisions the jacket will be used with VR headsets for more immersive experiences, given its ability to simulate hugs, being hit or punched, and peculiarly, the sensation of a snake slithering across your body. The jacket is made up of airbags with sensors attached that direct force and vibrations to specific locations on your body.
The software-controlled jacket weighs about five pounds and has a valve system that inflates and deflates 26 air compartments. It has adjustable sleeves, and the vest is made of a repurposed life vest with the inside foam replaced with the air bags. The air compartments are located on the jacket’s front, back, arms, and sides. The speed, force, and duration of inflation and deflation can be controlled using a haptic effects software editor. The researchers built three VR apps in testing the jacket, including a snowball fight game, a simulation of a snake crawling around, and a simulation of growing muscles (like turning into the Hulk).