A Japanese startup has created a bracelet that transfers and mimics bodily movements into virtual reality settings while also delivering to users haptic, virtually generated stimuli, such as pain.
H2L, a Tokyo-based, Sony-backed startup that started some ten years ago developing wearables to fill the gap between being aware and present in the real and virtual worlds, developed the technology, which detects arm movements and the flexing and stretching of the joints and muscles for translation into avatar movements.
Simultaneously, the bracelet allows virtual realities such as Facebook asset Metaverse to induce perceptible simulations of human sensations in the player’s physical body, such as the illusion of lifting a weight, force feedback, catching something, the feeling of a bird pecking at your hand, or even inducing pain.
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“Feeling pain enables us to turn the metaverse world into a real [world], with increased feelings of presence and immersion,”CEO Emi Tamaki told the Financial Times.
“We focused mainly on pain here but H2L also works on proprioception as a whole — which also includes weight-feeling and resistance-feeling,” FT clarified on Twitter.
Tamaki explained to the outlet that she came to the idea of creating gadgets to blur the boundaries between the physical reality and the Metaverse after she experienced a near-death experience in her late teens due to congenital heart disease.
“I realized life was precious, so I decided to work on a new field that I really wanted to dig into, as there was no one doing research at the time,” she said.
Because of her condition, she is not able to travel far or perform heavy physical work.
In order to cope, the CEO resorted to wishing for an augmented reality unhampered by her disability.
“People like me, who cannot go out often because I don’t have enough muscle due to heart disease, can travel anywhere, anytime,” she said.
Tamaki said H2L dreams of “release[ing] humans from any sort of constraint in terms of space, body, and time” within the next ten years.
The startup is one of a dozen or so Japanese companies that are currently investing in and probing the development and commercialization of virtual reality applications.
Together, they have raised some $60 million USD, according to data researcher Tracxn.
Meanwhile, while Meta announced it is working on a vibrating glove to attain similar proprioceptive results, OWO, a Spain-based company, has produced a haptic vest that reportedly enables its wearers to experience the sensation of getting hugged or being shot with a gun.