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Cyberpunk futurist gaming fantasies are getting closer to commercial reality courtesy of Walt Disney’s research labs.

Disney Research, Pittsburgh (DRP), has created a new sensory based technology called Surround Haptics, which allows gamers and film audiences to feel a range of sensations wherever they wear the technology.

The haptics could revolutionize the gaming and certain genres of the film industry, while also providing a minefield for classification boards around the world, already worried about naughty games and websites.

The tactile technology uses a low-resolution grid of vibrating actuators to generate ‘phantom’ high-resolution, continuous, moving tactile strokes and sensations on human skin. According to DRP, Surround Haptics “is based on a carefully designed and thoroughly evaluated algorithm derived from psychophysical modeling of tactile illusions.”

The Mouse House researchers add that the algorithms are highly scalable and could be used anywhere on the skin, “such as on the back, forearm, torso, palm, thigh and even on the sole of the foot.”

“This technology has the capability of enhancing the perception of flying or falling, of shrinking or growing, of feeling bugs creeping on your skin. The possibilities are endless,” DRP senior research scientist Ali Israr says.

The researchers have a prototype gaming chair which they are currently publicly demonstrating but DRP claim the concept can be easily embedded into clothing, gloves, sports equipment and mobile computing devices. ®

While the technology opens a whole new level of experiential and virtual reality entertainment across gaming, movies and music, it can also be applied for uses such as communications for the disabled, emergency services and remote transport.

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