Tactile Gaming Vests: The Fourth Dimension In Gaming Reaches New Level Of Pain

March 31, 2010 by Ted Goodman, Phys.org weblog
Half-Life 2 scene via sharkyextreme.com

(PhysOrg.com) -- Have you ever been downed by a shot to your gut from a USP Match in Half-Life 2? Not yet? Well, if you crave realism in your gaming experiences, you'll want to know about the development of the Tactile Gaming Vest (TGV).

Graduate robotics students at the University of Pennsylvania, motivated by realism trends in movies and gaming, decided to take a step into a new dimension - the fourth dimension of haptic reality, the tactile simulation of forces that impact characters in a or on the big screen.

Tactile Gaming Vest. Photo by Saurabh Palan

Unimpressed by 4-D developments they had seen at haptics conferences and theme parks, the team of students - Saurabh Palan, Ruoyao Wang, Nathaniel Naukam, Edward Li, and Katherine J. Kuchenbecker - set out to make gunshots, knife slashings, and the feeling of blood dripping from the wounds more realistic than the other gadgets they had experienced provided.

Using a first person shoot game (FPS Game: HALF LIFE 2 - Gun Shot Moment), the team set up their own game mode source code with a Source Engine wiki, complied it, and ran it through a Valve Steam platform. Then they designed their own map and game level and created their own 3-D first person shooter game.

The TGVs are stuffed with actuators in the chest and on the front and back of the shoulders, and they are timed to go off when your character gets shot. They even get you where your character gets shot. Getting stabbed is no sweat either. The vibrating motors embedded around the vest simulate that experience. Oooh. Aaah. Why the vest can even simulate blood flowing from a wound. Ugh.

Go away dude. I'm about to get shot! Photo by Saurabh Palan

But there’s more to come. More sensations. More reality. But not much more pain. Palan and team want the vest to communicate the suddenness of the impact, but not too much pain.

And I should add, that the Tactile Gaming Vest is not being developed just for gamers, but for 4-D movies, and the military to simulate what happens in battle. Now, that’s .

Explore further: Immersive Game System Allows Physical Interaction Between Players

More information: -- iRoboticist.com
-- IEEE Spectrum

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2.7 / 5 (3) Mar 31, 2010
Bit brute force with a vest and all. A few nerve stimulating pads coupled with a working knowledge of nociception would be more elegant and definitively cheaper.
2.7 / 5 (3) Mar 31, 2010
Agreed. Seems like a lot of work to make a physical system like this when you could just stimulate nerves directly. Maybe that tech isn't as advanced yet, but it will get there and be much simpler and likely much less bulky.
5 / 5 (5) Mar 31, 2010
Commercially it would be a lot easier sell to get people to wear a vest with some vibrations and solenoid actuators than to get them to let you stimulate their nerves directly.
not rated yet Mar 31, 2010
@Javinator: That's a good point. I could see this becoming so realistic that people have heart attacks or something. It's a little disturbing that it simulates blood dripping.
5 / 5 (2) Mar 31, 2010
I think they need to spend less time on gimmicks like this and spend more time on more important factors for immersion like changing the way a player controls their avatar. 640 muscles of the body controlled by a keyboard and mouse?

But anything better will probably require some sort of Brain Computer Interface ...
not rated yet Mar 31, 2010
Simulated blood loss? I'm totally in! I keep hearing more and more about 4-D these days. I think the first time I even heard of the concept on an entertainment level was at Disneyland on the "Honey I Shrunk The Kids" ride. I think, used properly, it could be affective though. I saw a video recently about how the military is using 4-D to more effectively train soldiers. They call it "The Flat World". I'll post a link to the video if you want more insight for yourself. It's pretty wild stuff! I don't think it simulates dripping blood though.

not rated yet Mar 31, 2010
Just watched the "Flat World" army video. TO SAVE PEOPLE TIME: it's low tech and embarrassing to the military, I bet people are laughing about it right now *looks at you*.
Apr 01, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
not rated yet Apr 03, 2010
shame the author obviously doesn't know much about gaming/coding: should be 'first person shooter', 'compiled' and Half Life 2 runs ON the Steam platform. The game uses the Source Engine. Doesn't detract from the information about the vest, but why not have someone familiar with the subject write on it?
not rated yet Apr 06, 2010
Agreed. Seems like a lot of work to make a physical system like this when you could just stimulate nerves directly. Maybe that tech isn't as advanced yet, but it will get there and be much simpler and likely much less bulky.

to be honest, there is no way i would allow a computer game to be hooked up directly to my nervous system. it would be every hackers delight
not rated yet Apr 06, 2010
hooked up directly to my nervous system.

While pain receptors are, indeed, part of the nervous system, they really don't do anything beside signalising pain. Also, besides any artificial safety limits(which would be trivial to implement), there are biological thresholds which make sure the whole system doesn't overload.

Really, the only danger is for people with heart conditions, but that's true for the vest, too. On the other hand, I'd sooner risk a malevolent hacker taking control of some easily removable, battery powered pads, rather than a heavy vest full of servos likely connected to the main line.
not rated yet Apr 06, 2010
Commercially it would be a lot easier sell to get people to wear a vest with some vibrations and solenoid actuators than to get them to let you stimulate their nerves directly.

You don't watch a lot of teleshopping, do you? Ab toning belts have been around for quite a while now. That means that there are people actually buying them. Also, the option to "plug in", Matrix-like, into a virtual world should be quite appealing to gamers, generally known to hold interests in both sci-fi and technology.
not rated yet Apr 09, 2010
Ab toners aren't sold based on the premise that they will electrically stimulate your nerve endings to cause pain. They're sold based on people being lazy and wanting to do less actual work to get in shape. Similar technology, sure, but way different sales pitch and customer base.

I'm not saying that electrical stimulation is a bad idea. I do believe it would be harder to sell the idea to potential investors and to the general public though (ie. some kid might think that electrical stimulation is cool and safe, but his parents might not).

People have a lot better understanding (and thus less fear) of air pockets and mechanical vibrations than they do of electrical stimulation of nerve endings regardless of how safe it actually is.
not rated yet Apr 09, 2010
Also this vest is being designed by robotics students so it makes sense that they'd use this kind of technology to design their vest.

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