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Brief Published: 8 May 2018

Wearable to Feel the Virtual World

Disney Research – a team of labs exploring new digital technology within The Walt Disney Company – has unveiled the Force Jacket prototype. The wearable uses air to create physical sensations that mimic impact in the digital world, allowing wearers to enjoy realistic virtual experiences.

The jacket is fitted with 26 small air pockets that are remotely controlled via a computer, and can inflate to create precise points of force and vibrations. The inflatable segments are attached to an internal vacuum and air compressor to realistically imitate a range of 14 different “feel effects”, such as a hug, punch, and even a snake slithering over the body.

The speed, strength and duration of time it takes for the air pockets to inflate and deflate can be adjusted to accurately reflect the force of a particular digital scenario. The settings can also be tweaked to suit the size and muscle mass of the wearer, ensuring consistent experiences for users of different body types.

With augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR) technology gaining mainstream acceptance, designers are becoming inspired to challenge conventional ways of engaging with media. As examined in our Macro Trend report Designing Amplified Experiences, new tech is breaking free from the confines of handheld controllers, focusing on the feet, arms and upper body to create life-like gaming experiences.

For more on how AR and VR are being used throughout different industries, see Education Innovation, Retail’s VR Future and State of Mobile: Augmented Reality.