Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Philips Force Feedback Jacket Being Tested

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 26 comments

A new force feedback jacket is now being tested by Philips Electronics, and it aims to help users feel their multimedia content in an entirely new way. 

In today's gaming consoles, vibration technology in controllers has become commonplace without any extra investment. Through force feedback technology, video gamers can feel the force of an explosion, the jolt of a collision, and even the jolts of flight turbulence. Even some of the more popular PC joystick and gamepad peripherals offered force feedback, and a variety of game related seats and sofas began hitting shelves with subwoofers built right in to stimulate with sound. 

Unlike most force feedback technology on the market today however, the jacket developed by Philips Electronic is built around a series of physical actuators to affect the user, instead of sound or motion based vibration. Sixty-four independently controlled actuators are distributed throughout the jacket, from the torso down to the arms. The sixty-four actuators are paired in arrays of four and linked via a serial bus, with each array sharing its own microprocessor. Surprisingly, the power needs of the jacket are small. Just two AA batteries can power the jacket for one full hour, even if twenty of the actuators were triggered continuously.

Even more impressive is the actual rate in which the actuators can be triggered. Each actuator is capable of being cycled on and off at a rate of 100 times per second. While the bulk of the actuators are centered around the torso, the arms still receive sufficient stimulation with its eight actuators per sleeve. By using four actuators in the front and four in the back of each sleeve, the sensation of an arm being touched or tapped in several different spots is achieved through a phenomenon called the "cutaneous rabbit illusion."

The technology behind the jacket was revealed by Philips at the IEEE-sponsored 2009 World Haptics Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. According to Philips senior scientist Paul Lemmens, “People don’t realize how sensitive we are to touch, although it is the first sense that fetuses develop in the womb." 

As an example of the technology put to use, Jensen later continues "We want people to feel Bruce Lee’s anxiety about whether he will get out alive, causing a shiver to go up the viewer’s spine and creating the feeling of tension in the limbs."  Even sensations such as a pulsing on the chest would be created by the jacket to imitate an elevated heartbeat. The aim according to Lemmens is to investigate emotional immersion in multimedia most of all. Whether signals are pre-encoded within a DVD, or are sent real-time via an application, the feedback desired can be achieved in several different ways.

According to Jensen, there are no plans currently to develop a set of pants to accompany the jacket, however the potential applications for the technology are limitless. 

Certainly interesting in concept, we definitely look forward to seeing this technology in action in not just movie based applications, but also in games.

Display all 26 comments.
This thread is closed for comments
  • 1 Hide
    Tindytim , March 21, 2009 6:57 PM
    It sounds interesting but I doubt it will ever be marketable.

    Who want to put on a jacket everytime they play a game or watch a movie, not to mention if you want to watch with multiple people, or what the temperature is like. And what about the sizing of this Jacket?

    There are to many variables, and it's seems like a huge gimmick.
  • 0 Hide
    Claimintru , March 21, 2009 7:16 PM
    I'd suit up to play a game. Especially if the jacket was stylin'
  • 4 Hide
    mtyermom , March 21, 2009 7:58 PM
    Why am I picturing something "Michael Jacksonish"?
  • 0 Hide
    jerreece , March 21, 2009 8:24 PM
    I can see more use for this kind of force feedback with FPS games than I can flight simulations. Imagine if something like this truly went mainstream. There you are playing Crysis, or COD4 or something, and you're feeling when you get hit.

    As long as it wasn't "Michael Jacksonish" like mtyermom suggested, a couple folks might buy into it. :) 
  • 0 Hide
    JumpKickJoe , March 21, 2009 9:05 PM
    Anyone here has ever felt a .38 slug hit them while wearing a bullet proof vest? That hurts a lot. I personally would not like to wear this thing when i get a .50 cal sniper shot or some LVL39 super uber combomatic ultra that you as gamers already know, rocks your controller in your hand like a ship on the high seas lol
  • 0 Hide
    JumpKickJoe , March 21, 2009 9:06 PM
    i'm a gamer BTW and these new VR suits and goggles really have me worried.

    Can anyone remember the kid and the old man who had on the vr goggles and dies while playing a skiing game?
  • -1 Hide
    greenskye , March 21, 2009 9:50 PM
    what happens when someone puts this on and gets so worked up he has a heart attack?
  • 0 Hide
    techguy911 , March 21, 2009 10:48 PM
    They also have to be careful how powerful actuators are if you hit someone in chest in between a heart beat it can cause there heart to stop.

    Same goes for baseball, golf and any other sports....
  • 0 Hide
    Tekkamanraiden , March 22, 2009 12:09 AM

    Because it is both funny and frightening at the same time.
  • 0 Hide
    cheepstuff , March 22, 2009 2:10 AM
    what kind of sound would be kicked off by these actuators. i would hate to be playing an intense game and hear a constant buzz.
  • 0 Hide
    solymnar , March 22, 2009 3:45 AM
    I'd like to see stanardized 3D technology first. I'm sincerely hoping ATI jumps onto the same page with nvidia and that it just catches on from there.
  • 8 Hide
    pirateboy , March 22, 2009 7:47 AM
    I want a porn movie suit for stimulation in all the right places ;) 
  • 2 Hide
    TemjinGold , March 22, 2009 12:49 PM
    Don't waste your money on the jacket. If you want more realism when you get hit in games just get a friend to stand behind you with a baseball bat...
  • -1 Hide
    NuclearShadow , March 22, 2009 2:31 PM
    I find things like this to be rather useless. All they will do is apply pressure not even enough to cause pain or pleasure but just minor discomfort. The only effective way I could ever come up with to simulate realistic physical feelings is a VR that would appear real enough to trick the brain into thinking that its real. Causing lets say a kiss on the cheek to be actually felt.
  • 0 Hide
    NuclearShadow , March 22, 2009 5:15 PM
    Well demonhorde I don't think it could cause actual death in that manner though one can assume someone with health problems especially heart problems could due to their condition.

    Though with proper VR it would be possible to not only feel what is going on but to have the body actually respond to it. Things from adrenaline rushes to even a bloody nose is possible. Dreams can already cause these actions for some people. I mostly have violent dreams (due to my PTSD) and I often throw punches in my sleep, wake up with a bloody nose when in the dream I was hit there. (and no I did not hit myself)

    I'm sure we all have had dreams that have felt so real. All we would have to do is make a VR that gives equal quality. It would produce the same effect.
  • 0 Hide
    mdillenbeck , March 22, 2009 6:04 PM
    Personally, I'm waiting for rubber bullet gun forced feedback unit - you know, every time you get shot it fires a rubber bullet into you for the "realness" of the experience. (See how many people go for FPS then!) :p 

    Honestly, from some of the feedback it appears that a few people suffer from a serious lack of risk assessment ability along with the typical US view that all activities should be reduced to "zero risk".

    What is the probability you will die playing baseball? Skiing? Driving in a car? Living a sedentary life (playing video games instead of playing baseball or skiing, all while eating doritos and chugging down artificial carbonated beverages)? How many people have physical injuries from their dreams that are potentially lethal? (Personally in my nightmares I've been shot, stabbed, had my throat ripped, and atomized by a nuclear blast and I am still alive.)

    Take a bit of advice from your friendly Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:

    Don't Panic

    Yes, you are going to die someday. The up side? You'll finally have achieved a zero risk! However, heart disease, diabetes, or cancer will most likely get you before you die from a video-game induced epileptic seizure (anyone remember that scare?) or heart attack. Also, when checking risk, remember to check how many times something DOES NOT happen versus does. So a kid got hit in the chest and it stopped his heart - how many times do kids get hit in the chest with baseballs and their heart keeps beating? How many times has someone eaten peas (or whatever other food) and NOT choked to death? Sure, there is a risk - but everything you do when alive has some risk.
  • 0 Hide
    Trialsking , March 22, 2009 7:29 PM
    pirateboyI want a porn movie suit for stimulation in all the right places

    Exactly, the only real use for it.
  • 0 Hide
    Tindytim , March 22, 2009 8:31 PM
    pirateboyI want a porn movie suit for stimulation in all the right places

    According to Jensen, there are no plans currently to develop a set of pants to accompany the jacket
  • 1 Hide
    sacre , March 23, 2009 12:25 AM
    techguy911They also have to be careful how powerful actuators are if you hit someone in chest in between a heart beat it can cause there heart to stop. goes for baseball, golf and any other sports....

    lmao, really now. They are tiny air balloons that inflate and deflate according to the game, they won't even cause a bruise at "max power". To stop a heart takes quite a shock, or jolt. The heart isn't that Fragile my friend, for if it were, we'd all be wearing metal vests to protect from bumps

    As for the vest, I WANT IT NOW!... imagine a freaky game in the middle of the night, and some beast hits you from behind and u feel it, my christ that would scare me.. i'd scream and wake up the kids.. thats for sure.
  • 1 Hide
    my_name_is_earl , March 23, 2009 12:37 AM
    Jacket is a waste of dough to spend on. Try buying a projector and a 100" screen for your bedroom and game instead. You'll feel something alright!
Display more comments