The gaming community is out in force (at least on the Internet) about a product that snugly fits into the Wearable Electronic space: a vest for computer game players that let them feel physically if they get hit or stabbed or if the get a punch.
The technology inside the 3rd Space Vest was originally designed as a medical device by Dr. Mark Ombrellaro, a US surgeon and CEO of TN Games. Ombrellaro was working on a way to give medical exams via the Internet to prisoners, the elderly, those in rural communities and people that live in isolated regions with very limited access to medical services.
The medical version is used to poke and press patients’ bodies remotely and get feedback on what they are feeling. Being a medical device, the vest needs approval by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which usually is a lengthy process.
No wonder that Dr. Ombrellaro was looking for other uses of his development and came up with the 3rd Space Vest to the delightment of computer gamers.
The 3rd Space Vest uses 8 pneumatic cells embedded in the vest. The cells are designed to simulate the direction and force of bullet fire in a first-person-shooter game.
TN Games state to have patches to 3rd Space-enable Quake 3, Quake 4, Call of Duty and Doom 3. These patches will be freely downloadable from the TN Games website once the vests ship.
Next year, the company plans to ship a version of the vest that will mimic G-forces and turning pressures for flight and car games.
You can pre-order the vest at their site now, in either black or camouflage. The regular price is $189, but if you pre-order you get a $20 discount. The vests will ship November 21st, just right for the holiday season with the long days inside.
One personal remark: I am a bit surprised not seeing much earlier Wearable Electronic technologies catching on as new dimension for game accessories.
Special light effects and sound effects with some physical (rumpling) feedback on the joystick exists already but Wearable Electronic technologies would allow to sense the excitement level (some might call it stress) of the gamer and use it as additional parameter for the game.
I am by no means a gamer myself but I could imagine a whole new experience level opening up for gaming using sensors to catch the physical condition of the heros of the game and play with the emotions. Maybe this could lead to less violent games if one gets beaten up all the time 😉