A new jacket from Philips Electronics lets you “feel” a movie; not the roundhouse kicks themselves, but the actual emotions behind them.
The jacket itself contains tiny pressure actuators around the chest and arms that provide small pulses of pressure to the skin. Each actuator can cycle up to 100 times a second, providing that little “beat” on your skin, and using a weird process known as the “cutaneous rabbit illusion”, it causes you to feel the tingle between the two points.
For instance, a short tap on your wrist followed by a short tap on your elbow causes you to feel as if a series of taps move up your arm. Now, the force in them may be low, but imagine the effect if, when Chuck Norris pans back for a kick, you feel a tension in your abdomen and an increased beating on your heart. Or the jacket can make a shiver run up your spine when the the hero is in danger.
The micro signals can be simply embedded into the film’s track so that anyone with the jacket on will be electrified by the performance, but not by the jacket, as the twin AA batteries that run it can work for nearly an hour non-stop with all 20 motors going full tilt.
“People don’t realize how sensitive we are to touch, although it is the first sense that fetuses develop in the womb,” said Paul Lemmens, one of the Philips scientists who worked on the jacket.
Unfortunately, or not, there are no plans to make a matching pair of pants.