While the buzz may still be ramping up regarding the latest virtual reality headsets, the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, there are already companies working on what I would describe as VR 2.0. The current technology out there is fairly immersive, at least on a sight and sound level. It’s when one becomes so immersed in a game or experience that they reach out and try and pick up, push or throw objects that the immersion breaks away a bit. One company, founded in 2012 and based in Seattle, WA, and San Luis Obispo, CA, AxonVR wants to change all of this.
AxonVR’s mission is ‘to bring virtual worlds to life through the power of realistic, full-body interaction,’ and that’s just what they seem to have accomplished. This week the company revealed new details about a project they have been working on for quite some time, the Axon Suit. The suit itself is fairly lightweight and made up of a jacket, pants, gloves and boots, which have thousands of sensors and feedback mechanisms throughout called ‘pixels’. These pixels are able to put pressure on the user’s body as well as simulate various temperatures. The haptic feedback is quite remarkable, as the gloves are able to allow users to feel textures on objects, and the jacket able to put enough pressure on one’s arms to make them actually feel as if they are picking up heavy objects. Additionally, if an experience involves wandering through a dessert, it’s not unlikely that the suit’s temperature control system would cause a user to actually sweat.
“AxonVR has created a powerful new way to experience VR, using haptic technology that will bring the concept of immersion to new levels,” said Joe Michaels, the company’s new financial chief, transplanted earlier this week from Microsoft. “I’m beyond excited to work with forward-thinking companies who can utilize Axon’s novel technology.”
The user will be suspended in the air and connected to the base-machine via their waste. Despite having absolutely no pressure on one’s legs, the pixels on the bottom of the user’s feet, along with the pant portion of the suit, will allow the user to sense walking as if they actually were standing on their own two feel.
Because of the size of the entire suit and base-station, AxonVR is not targeting the consumer market at this time. Instead they are looking towards arcade and amusement parks, as well as perhaps rehabilitation facilities. While this is certainly something that could very well be appealing to many VR enthusiasts, in the end, price will be a very important determinant as to how many of these Axon Suits are ultimately sold. Let’s hear your thoughts on this intriguing new VR device in the Axon Suit forum on VRTalk.com.