Current VR technology can transport your eyes and ears to virtual worlds, but it's at times had trouble with the rest of your body. That could be about to change, as AxonVR has developed a prototype virtual reality platform comprising a full body suit and exoskeleton that lets your whole body feel and interact with the virtual world.
The core of the system is the lightweight AxonSuit, made up of a jacket, pants, gloves and boots that convey tactile and even thermal feedback to different parts of your body. The inside is lined with a material containing thousands of "pixels," which can individually apply various amounts of pressure and heat to simulate different textures and temperatures.
You'll be able to feel how rough or smooth, hot or cold, a virtual object is. Or even just the environment itself: wander through a simulated desert, for example, and you might find your entire body heating up. Tactile feedback on the soles of your feet even simulate the natural feeling of walking, despite being suspended in midair by the base station.
The suit clips into this base station via a solid-but-lightweight exoskeleton, which senses the changing position of your entire body and individual limbs and translates this into movement in the virtual environment. The rig applies force to varying degrees to give virtual objects realistic weight and resistance when you move or lift them.
The rig may be a little bulky for homes, and will no doubt be expensive if and when it makes it to market, but AxonVR is initially targeting theme parks, arcades and similar entertainment venues. Beyond games and entertainment, the AxonVR could also find applications in post-injury rehabilitation, and military and athletic training.
The AxonVR team explains the technology in the following video.