Philips Electronics is on the forefront in research and development when it comes to blur the line between physical and virtual world. Extending the visual range beyond the boundary of a TV screen, ‘AmbiLight‘ is one example how to extend the sreen world. The ‘amBX‘ system is another technology where ‘rumbles and wind effects’ are added to the light effects.
Philips researchers bring now another dimension of interacting with the virtual world right into our clothing, a jacket that contains 64 independently controlled actuators distributed across the arms and torso.
Movies will contain additional information to control these actuators to let us feel the emotional sensation a movie actor goes through the action on the screen as Paul Lemmens, a Philips senior scientist points out. It is not the intention to let the wearer feel the painful blows a movie hero is exposed to.
The actuators draw only a little current allowing the jacket to operate for an hour on its two AA batteries even if the system was continuously driving 20 of the motors simultaneously.
Interactive ‘Cyber Clothing’ is not new, one comes to my mind is the Hug Shirt from CuteCircuit which sends hugs via cellphone to distant loved ones. Another interactive apparel is the 3rd Space Vest which lefts you feel the blows (but won’t hurt you either) when interacting with games.
Our clothing is our second skin and wearable technologies can add senses we lost or cover up with our clothing. But as the above examples show, wearable technologies can add new senses to our skin bridging the Cyber world we build ourselves over the past year and where we spend more and more time in it with the physical world.