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This futuristic haptic vest should make virtual reality feel more realistic

Actronika, a startup company known for its HD haptics technology has a futuristic new product. Expected to be on display at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January 2022 is Skinetic, a haptic vest that should make virtual reality experiences feel a lot more realistic.

Skinetic works much as you’d expect. The wearable vest makes VR feel more immersive by bringing life-like sensations and touch-like experiences to areas of the body like the chest when paired with a compatible headset. As reported by Business Wire, the technology “works with 20 patented vibrotactile voice-coil motors, capable of generating a wide range of vibrations that cover 100% of human vibrotactile perception.”

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Skinetic, the Haptic VR Vest.

Actronika ensures that the sensation is real, as it says that it studied the variations in sensitivity of the human body in order to optimize the users’ perception and appreciation of the sensations. This should make things like the impact of bullets or the feeling of waterdrops feel even more real in virtual reality.

“Few players are beginning to add the sense of touch into VR. However, the tactile illusions are still very flat. We decided to take this technology from black and white to full color,” said Gilles Meyer, CEO of Actronika.

Skinetic is expected to be available for pre-order on March 22, 2022, during a one-month Kickstarter campaign. Pricing and a release date have not yet been disclosed, but Actronika mentions that the technology can be used in “from training to gaming.”

Even so, Actronika isn’t alone when it comes to developing wearable VR technology. Such a feat has been accomplished before, and ahead of CES 2021, the group bHaptics introduced a series of wireless haptic vests catered to gamers which physical feedback from VR and other content. It was priced at around $300 and was compatible with titles from both SteamVR and Oculus Quest.

In other areas of VR technology, scientists from EPFL and ETH Zurich previously worked on thin and light VR gloves. The concept was detailed back in 2018. Fast forward a few years to 2021, and Meta, the company previously known as Facebook, now believes that haptic gloves could unlock the future of the metaverse — the online space for virtual representations of ourselves.

Virtual reality and augmented reality are a growing market for companies like Meta, Google, Apple, and even Microsoft. Microsoft already has the HoloLens 2 AR headset, but it is said to be working with Samsung on a new headset. Apple is apparently making progress on its own experience, too.

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