Strap into the Hardlight VR Suit from NullSpace VR and step inside games where you’ll be fighting zombies and other vicious baddies. VR gamers are used to the immersive visual and auditory stimulation that comes with wearing a virtual headset and audio strap. Now it’s time to turn this experience up to 11 (thanks, Spinal Tap) and tap into physical sensation.
The Hardlight Suit
The Hardlight Suit isn’t a full body suit like the name implies, it’s more like a full body tracked vest with arm straps that deliver immersive and informative haptic feedback to the wearer as they play a game in virtual reality. The tethered or wireless haptic suit is built with 16 low latency, programmable and strategically placed haptic zones on muscle groups like the chest and abdomen, on top of shoulders and along the arms and forearms.
Immersive and Informative Haptic Feedback
When a gamer is playing a game like Sairento VR and using a katana, guns, or bows and projectiles to fight as a cyber ninja in VR, they’ll get to fight, teleport, and slow down time and jump to attack their enemy. Players wearing the Hardlight suit while playing Sairento experienced a level of immersion they’d never felt before.
With the suit’s haptic feedback technology, gamers will feel the movement of their katana in their arms and forearms as they swing it or shoot their gun and it recoils and emanates throughout the suit. They’ll also feel any damaging hits to the body like a shot to the back or chest from enemy fire. Don’t worry, the suit will make you feel impacts but the player won’t feel pain at all. This isn’t a magic wizard suit, although it seems like it and you may even play as one in Spellbound!
The informative haptic feedback tells the player what’s going on in the game and if the player brushes up against something or is grabbed by a zombie. Movements like jumping or leaping and then slowing time will give the player a ‘woosh’ sound and feeling of the impact as they land on the ground. Even a beating heart sensation can be programmed to go off in the chest portion of the suit, so you’ll feel the intensity increase at pivotal moments of combat.
VR Fitness Benefits
When getting attacked from all directions in a VR game do wish you felt it so you could react and fight back faster? Well, that’s exactly what Hardlight’s suit does. The steady stream of physical sensations bridges the gap between the player’s experience and the VR game they’re playing.
The upper body sensations will reinforce your actions, making playing a game more motivating to play and use as exercise. If the player is boxing an opponent in Thrill of the Fight! They will feel the impact of punches and jabs to the body and will experience a vibrational force all their own as they execute a left hook for a knockout.
Critique of Hardlight VR
The Hardlight Suit is a stimulating immersive device that rewards the player with physical vibrations and sensory input. As a project that started with haptic gloves that evolved into a vest/suit, it would be helpful if they would have kept the gloves and ditched the trigger controllers. Turning haptic gloves into VR controllers would make for more expensive hardware but the immersive quality of holding a weapon or touch would be amplified, making virtual gaming experiences more realistic.
The suit is made of durable plastic coverings that lay over the tech and the fabric is breathable and can fit almost anyone with their adjustable straps, but nothing has been said about how it will fare if salty sweat falls on it or seeps through. So, VR gyms and gamers who are sweating can assume that you won’t get shocked from sweating, but there’s no hygienic directions online on how to keep it clean.
The 4-hour battery life can last across multiple sessions for warehouse scale VR gaming and living room VR sessions. This can get a gamer’s heart pumping as they fight, walk, jump, and fly around a map, or go glove to glove with a boxer. However, 4 hours isn’t going to last all day and will need a recharge after it’s been drained. Commercial VR gyms will want to buy the suit in bulk to keep a steady supply of clean and battery-ready suits available.
Although the suit looks easy to strap into, having a gaming warehouse or arcade where pairs, groups, and teams will be strapping in will make an attendants life a little complicated. Having multiple attendants would be the easiest way to curb this multi-gamer issue.
The Final Decision: Get It! Try it!
We love the idea of fighting bad guys and the rush of feeling it in VR. The Hardlight VR Suit can be used with headsets and games that run off a PC, like the Oculus or HTC Vive as a tethered wearable or a wireless one, with a Wireless Module available for pre-order at $99. The everyday gamer can pre-order the Hardlight Suit for a hefty $630 while VR gyms, arcades, and businesses can get the Enterprise Edition for $1,000 with full licensing and one year warranty in case you need to return it and get a replacement.