Engineering's Haptics Group Gaming Vest "A Blast"

Tactile Gaming VestWatch Saurabh Palan, a Penn Engineering graduate student, test his Tactile Gaming Vest and you may wonder why America faces a shortage of future engineers.

The vest allows video game players to physically feel the impact of each gunshot blast as they play the game called “Half-Life 2,” adding a fourth dimension to the world of gaming.

Palan and his collaborators created the vest as a haptic feedback device. Haptic interfaces are computer-controlled, electro-mechanical systems that enable users to feel and manipulate a real, remote or virtual environment. The gaming vest is equipped with 12 small motors, controlled by custom engineering, that deliver a jolt to the person wearing it whenever they are attacked.

Palan says he came up with the idea for the vest as a class project for his mechanical engineering class taught by Katherine Kuchenbecker, director of the Haptics Group in Penn’s GRASP Lab.

Kuchenbecker’s lab seeks to better understand and improve human interaction with the physical world through the sense of touch.

It may sound like science fiction, but haptic interfacing is in fact already being used in everyday science. For example, haptics allows engineers to control the motion of robots in environments that humans can’t reach, such as the depths of the sea or the site of minimally invasive, robot-assisted surgery.

The gaming vest created by Palan demonstrates the growing importance of haptics in creating realistic computer simulations that may lead to improvements in human-computer interaction ranging from surgery to the military to the neighborhood movie theater.

Credit: Reprinted with permission from Research At Penn, "Gaming Vest is a Blast."

Interested? Learn more!

View the vest in action on YouTube
Penn Haptics Group Website
Katherine Kuchenbecker's Faculty Profile

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