Student's Choice Topic: Teslasuit – Full-body VR Haptic Suit

The Teslasuit is a full-body VR haptic suit. It is “the world’s first fully integrated smart clothing apparel with Haptic Feedback, Motion Capture, Climate Control and Biometric Feedback systems.”


Table of contents

  1. Table of contents
  2. Overview
  3. Features
    1. Haptic Feedback System
    2. Motion Capture System
    3. Climate Control System
    4. Biometric System
  4. Specifications
  5. Applications
  6. Developer Tools
  7. Potential Issues
  8. Conclusion
  9. References / Further Reading

Overview

Virtual Reality has gained a lot of traction in the past couple of years with the advent of cheaper Virtual Reality headsets becoming available to the consumers, owing to cheaper cost of small high-resolution displays – thanks to the smartphone industry – and cheaper computing and graphics processing power – thanks to the gaming industry. While these head-mounted displays, coupled with their motion-tracked controllers, are able to put our heads and hands into the virtual world, the rest of our body is still missing from this world. Furthermore, our sensation of this world is also restricted to our senses of sight and sound. Unless you are playing in a sci-fi virtual world, where our consciousness is separate from our bodies, the experience of floating head and hands doesn’t feel very real.

Although a few developers are working very hard in overcoming this problem, by estimating the body position and pose based on the position of the headset and the controllers, the fact remains that these are still, at best, estimates and might occasionally differ from the reality. One such implementation, that I am really looking forward to, is from Brandon J Laatsch from Stress Level Zero. Have a look at the following video, which demonstrates his team’s work for an upcoming game from his studio:


A more accurate way to put the user’s body in the VR world is by using full-body tracking. The Teslasuit allows you to do that, and a lot more! It is “the world’s first fully integrated smart clothing apparel with Haptic Feedback, Motion Capture, Climate Control and Biometric Feedback systems.”

Features

Haptic Feedback System

Teslasuit Haptic Feedback System

The Teslasuit uses two systems to deliver haptic feedback to its wearer – Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) and Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS). Both of these technologies are widely used in the medical field. While TENS is widely used for pain management, EMS is used for physiotherapy and weight training. According to WebMD, “in TENS therapy for pain management, a small, battery-operated device delivers low-voltage electrical current through the skin via electrodes placed near the source of pain. The electricity from the electrodes stimulates nerves in the affected area and sends signals to the brain that “scramble” normal pain perception”.

Teslasuit Haptic Feedback System

Likewise, the Teslasuit uses mild electrical impulses to not only affect the receptors but also the nerve endings. Depending on the amount of current, material, voltage, form of a wave, contact force, electrode size, hydration, and skin type, the suit can deliver to its wearer almost the whole range of sensations that we have in real life. This type of haptic feedback is termed as Electrotactile feedback.

Unlike vibration (also called Vibrotactile feedback), electrotactile feedback can transmit the feel of a breeze, texture, weight, weather – for example, precipitation like rain and snow. With the help of this system, the suit is also able to simulate weight, allowing the users to feel the heaviness of the items they are picking up, or interacting with.

Motion Capture System

Teslasuit Motion Capture System

The Teslasuit is equipped with professional-grade mo-cap sensors, which lend high precision, full-body tracking capability to the suit. The on-board chip on the suit processes the data from these sensors, allowing the Teslasuit to provide an avatar system and a gesture control system.

In particular, the Teslasuit consists of 11 motion capture modules, each of which is equipped with MEMS motion sensors. MEMS are micro-electromechanical systems of devices that involve both mechanical and electrical parts to determine the physical properties of objects.

These MEMS motion sensors transfer the position of joint angles of the limbs. The data obtained from them are sent to the slave microcontrollers. The main microcontroller reads all the data from the slave controllers, and once the data is processed, it is transferred wirelessly to a computer, tablet or smartphone device.

Teslasuit Motion Capture System

This way, the Teslasuit is able to completely simulate user’s body movements in xR environments сreating a digital representation of the user, that is called an avatar or “skin”. Such an implementation provides a higher degree of personalisation.

Climate Control System

Teslasuit Climate Control System

Teslasuit climate control is based on thermoelectric technology with embedded Peltier elements. It’s a smart, heat exchange technology that creates instant coolness or warmth when needed. Cool tones improve and accelerate thermal energy exchange between the body and the textile, where the redundant heat is then dissipated to instantly reduce the wearer’s temperature. Peltier elements have the following advantages:

Biometric System

Teslasuit Biometric System

Teslasuit biometric data can be divided into 2 main types – physiological and behavioral (behaviometrics). The former category is related to the body, and the latter is connected with behavioral patterns. The Teslasuit comes equipped with the following sensors:

The presence of these sensors in the suit have a wide variety of applications such as weight training and physiotherapy.

Specifications

Applications

Teslasuit finds its applications in a wide range of use cases ranging from medicine and military to sports and video games.

Developer Tools

Teslasuit Developer Tools

The Teslasuit comes bundled with free software to enable faster integration with applications. The bundled software include:

Potential Issues

Conclusion

The Teslasuit has achieved non-invasive immersion of its users into xR by including TENS/EMS stimulation and high precision motion tracking.

The Teslasuit has been created using modular technology. The advanced haptic element recreates the sensation of touch and simulates the feeling of the weight of objects in a virtual world. Motion capture provides a 2-way communication in a VR/AR environment, gesture control and position tracking. The climate component transmits the temperature change in a digital environment and simulates a range of temperature sensations.

The suit is not yet released for commercial use, but is available for B2B customers (enterprises and game development studios). This means it will take a while till we get to buy the suit.

The Teslasuit has been used and reviewed by people at TechRadar and Seeker, and they have great things to say about it! Check them out while we wait for the suit to be publicly available!


Watch Trace, from DNews, as he tries out the Teslasuit with Teslasuit co-founders Dimitree Marozau and Dimitri Mikhalchuk



TechRadar trying out the Teslasuit at London’s Future Tech Now Show



References / Further Reading