Have you ever wanted your video games to hurt? Us neither, but that hasn’t stopped Owo from creating the Owo Game haptic vest, which will make your body feel every punch, cut and gunshot as you play.
This terrifying-looking invention has been honored at CES 2022's Innovation Awards (opens in new tab). It boasts the ability to interface with games on mobile, PC, console, and VR platforms, and can currently deliver 30 unique sensations to wearers, with more planned by its creators.
To be fair to Owo, the vest doesn’t just deliver discomfort – it can also give you the sense that you’re free-falling or driving at 100mph, and you can even feel virtual hugs. On the downside, you’ll also be able to experience sensations that mimic being stabbed, shot (including feeling the exit wound as the slug leaves your body), and even bitten by an insect.
Thankfully, there are ways to turn down the intensity of (and even turn off) each sensation – so if you like your video games to be pain-free, you can keep it that way while still experiencing a deeper level of immersion.
That said, even given how frightening this Owo shirt sounds, we really want to try it out with every sensation set to a reasonable level. So far the best VR games have done well with immersing us using sight and sound alone, but with a third sense involved, we expect our digital surroundings will feel less virtual than ever.
We also expect that the vest will change how we approach compatible VR games mentally.
If you've ever played laser tag, you'll know that while it’s a lot of fun it encourages a cavalier attitude, because at the end of the day you’re going to go home uninjured, even if your score takes a few hits when you get shot.
But if you then transition to a game of paintball, that attitude changes. Paintballs can actually hurt depending on how and where you’re shot – and that slight fear you’re instilled with encourages you to play very differently if you want to go home unscathed.
In the same way, even if it's not going to be meting out that much pain, we imagine that the Owo Game vest will still engender enough fear to make us approach our VR experiences differently to how we might otherwise play a round of Halo Infinite's multiplayer.
Owo hasn't confirmed a price or launch date for the Game vest yet, but we'll hopefully get the chance to give it a try when we head over to CES in a few weeks.
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