Teslasuit offers full-body haptics to VR users

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Multiple images of the Teslasuit full-body haptic virtual reality suit(Credit: Tesla Studios)

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Tesla Studios (no relationship to Tesla Motors) recently announced that it has developed a full-body suit that will give the wearer a sensory experience to match the visual experiences now available through virtual reality headsets. Called the Teslasuit, it relies on neuro-muscular electrical stimulation technology also used in medicine, electrotherapy and professional sports to offer both tactile stimulation and temperature control.

The suit incorporates a mesh of sensors that include up to 52 channels to stimulate sensations in the skin through tiny electric pulses. The company says that it can simulate such diverse sensory experiences as touch, wind, water, heat, cold and force. For instance, the wearer can feel a warm summer breeze or the sudden impact of a bullet.

There's no vibration or noise in the suit, that the company describes as being non-bulky and able to be worn like normal clothing. It is completely wireless, and is expected to be compatible with existing virtual reality headsets like the Oculus Rift, as well as with popular game consoles and other devices like computers, tablets and smartphones.

The company believes there are a wide variety of potential applications including gaming, virtual dating, health, education, sports/fitness, science, engineering, psychology and real-life simulations.

Tesla Studios is in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign to raise nearly US$370,000 to help bring the Teslasuit to market. All of that virtual stimulation comes with a very real price tag, though. Early bird backers can get the full Teslasuit with the lower-resolution 16 channels and developer kit for a pledge of £1,199 (about US$1,770). The higher-resolution, 52-channel version can be had for £2,499 ($3,690).

If all goes as planned, the company expects to begin delivering the Teslasuit by the end of 2016.

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