Ask any gamer what they want right now and most will say a GPU, but when you say, “besides that” most will state they always want more immersion. It’s why we have ultra-wide monitors, 3D audio, and high-fidelity graphics, after all. However, a new haptic vest from a Spanish company called OWO is promising to offer a level of immersion we never knew we wanted. We still aren’t sure.
The company’s yet-to-be-launched vest, which is called OWO Game, is pitched as being able to simulate a wide range of sensations on your upper body, according to TechRadar. The sensations are delivered in real-time, for any game you are playing, wirelessly. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing on mobile, in VR, on console or on PC, it supposedly works. To achieve this the company has deposited what appear to be tiny little “vibration pods” for lack of a better phrase, in 10 areas around the vest, which is made from lycra, breathable fabric, and elastic cables. Based on the artwork available, it looks like there’s two sensation zones on your abdomen, two on your chest, one on the front of each arm, and four across your lower back. Since this is 2021 there’s also an app, and it lets you customize the amount of force that’s used. According to the company, “Our algorithm of sensations allows us to create infinite different sensations such as the rain, a gunshot, the wind or a hug.” One catch is you have to wear the vest without anything underneath it, as there are “gel patches” which must make contact with your skin to deliver the sensations. Also the word “infinite” here means 30 different sensations.
Easily the most insane “feature” that this vest offers, according to the company’s press kit, is the ability to experience the following: being shot and feeling the bullet enter your stomach area, then feeling the bullet leave your body out your lower back, then experiencing the sensation of bleeding out from your gut. Maybe we’re reached the “get off my lawn” phase of our gaming careers, but this doesn’t seem like a particularly fun thing to experience, even virtually. As to how the technology can even pull that off, the only hint on the company’s website is in its FAQ, which states it uses “conductive gels,” and it’s battery powered, so now we’re picturing the typical torture scene from a movie where electricity is applied to certain body parts. We can imagine that would be painful, but it sounds more like when a charge is applied to the gels they just vibrate a bit. That’s just an educated guess, however.
Though we’re always excited about new technology, especially when it comes to haptics and VR, we are skeptical about this technology’s level of precision simply because its website is curiously light on details about how it was designed. For example, in explaining its haptic system, the website reads, “At OWO we have developed and patented a haptic system that allows users to feel real physical sensations. This system is composed of hardware and software. We have named the system technology: Sensations Technology.” Really? Hardware and software? We never would have guessed. That said, we would be glad to be proven wrong here, but our Spidey sense tingles a bit when cutting-edge technological innovations are announced with what reads like pure PR content without much detail. This isn’t our first rodeo, after all.
We’ll be able to find out more about the OWO Game vest soon, as it has already been given an innovation award by the people who run CES, and is expected to debut at the upcoming trade show. No pricing or availability date has been announced, but you can “pre-order” on the company’s website, but that appears to just let you know when they will be available, or something.
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