Recently, we wrote about how Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) is going to explode in popularity by 2030.
The common pain point that general society has with AR and VR is that you can't feel things in the same way that you may be able to see them. We subsequently began to research whether there was a solution for this pain point, and we seemingly found one!
Enter... THE HAPTIC SUIT!
Haptic suits are not mainstream yet. In fact, they're not very well known at all. With that being said, we think they could be the apple to the pie, or the donkey to the Shrek. Put simply, we believe that Haptic Suits will provide the 4D element that is currently missing throughout Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality experiences.
What is a Haptic Suit?
A Haptic Suit is a wearable device which provides sensory feedback to the body. These suits simulate the senses of touch and motion, enabling the human body to feel things that they are currently visualising.
Haptic Suits are able to mimick real-life sensations - hot and cold, rough and smooth, pleasure and pain! It allows someone to truly immerse themselves in virtual experiences, not just visually but physically too...
Why will Haptic Suits become important in the future?
By 2030, it is forecast that over 23 million jobs will be assisted by VR & AR technologies. This is a substantial increased compared to the estimated 800,000 jobs which are currently assisted by VR & AR in 2019.
If the above prediction is correct, it is highly likely that the experience individuals have with virtual and augmented reality will exponentially improve. Think about the two main pain points that we have with AR & VR today:
Headsets are impractical for day to day life
Experiences aren't sensory i.e. they can't be felt
Whilst Haptic Suits will not make headsets smaller, they are the missing link to sensory experiences. Imagine a world where you can feel the experience that you're watching!
Examples of where Haptic Suits will enhance the VR & AR experience:
Physical Activity - you will be able to feel the punches when you try to fight a pro boxer
Scary movies - you will be able to feel the zombie who touches your shoulder!
How do Haptic Suits work?
Haptic Suits stimulate nerve endings which impact skin sensations and can sometimes lead to muscle contractions, known as Electric Muscle Stimulations (EMS).
When there is a virtual collision between the body and another object, the Haptic Suit will deliver pulses from within the suit to nerve endings in the same area of the body that has been virtually impacted.
This stimulation allows the user to feel the same, or similar sensations to what they would do in real life.
How much does a Haptic Suit cost?
At the moment, there are not many companies who are selling Haptic Suits as the technology is still within it's infancy.
bHaptics appears to be selling a Haptic vest for $499 USD and TESLASUIT does not show an actual cost on their website however we would anticipate that a full suit would currently cost between $700-$1000 USD.
We would compare these initial suits to a television in the 1960s. Innovative for their time but extremely chunky and inaffordable for most households. In saying this, we expect that lavish investment into the AR & VR industry over the next 5-10 years will lead to significant technological enhancements in Haptic suits. Our bold claim is that Haptic Suits will be as light as women's stockings by 2030.
Why aren't Haptic Suits mainstream yet?
From our research, there are 3 main reasons why Haptic Suits aren't mainstream yet:
Weight - The vest alone weighs between 1.5 - 2.5KG. This means that it is impractical for everyday use, and is generally only worn by gamers who want to immerse themselves in the full VR experience.
Lack of integration - Even for the gaming world, it appears that there is a lack of integration between VR & Haptic Suits. Superjumpmagazine.com recently commented that "while there is native support for bHaptics accessories on the Oculus Quest, there are few games that currently support it. This is one of the biggest deterrents preventing Quest users from buying these accessories".
Cost - The cost of Haptic Suits are still quite expensive - between $299 to $1000 USD depending on the length of the suit. It appears that gamers would prefer to spend their money on expensive VR headsets for now.
To conclude, we feel like we have stumbled across a hidden gem with Haptic Suits! Whilst the weight and cost of Haptic vests is inhibiting mainstream consumers from purchasing them at the moment, we are extremely confident that the increased investment into this industry combined with the exponential improvements in technology will enable Haptic Suits to become a mainstream consumer item by 2030.
We envision Haptic Suits to become a common wearable item, allowing consumers to feel the sensations of Augmented & Virtual Reality as they continue with day to day life.
Only time will tell...
The Bearded Man