The missing link for virtual reality that truly blows me away arrived late last year when I got my hands on the Oculus Touch controllers, which allow you to interact in VR with your hands. Now that we’ve crossed that truly immersive threshold, the next step is the rest of our senses: haptic feedback.
And while we’re still not quite there yet in terms of affordable, commercial haptic feedback suits, I’ve stumbled upon what I think may be the next best solution in the meantime: the Subpac M2 audio feedback vest.
A new tool in the audio arsenal
Weighing just four pounds, the wearable device fits snugly around your torso and is designed to let you literally “feel” the music you’re listening to. The black plastic and fabric layered device, which looks like a tactical vest (in a cool way), features a rechargeable lithium ion battery that lasts 8 hours (rechargeable in 2 hours), can handle sweat but isn’t waterproof, and can be used wirelessly via Bluetooth or through a 3.5mm stereo plug.
But beyond music, it turns out that the Subpac M2 also does a damn good job at providing a kind of faux haptic feedback in VR. Although the interactions and impacts that you experience in VR aren’t directly represented through the Subpac M2, wearing the it offers something close to a haptic feedback experience. The allusion comes when the vest’s feedback control is set to a high level.
How it Feels
The best way to describe the sensations delivered by the Subpac M2 is to think of those insane and incredibly-annoying-unless-you’re-riding-in-them-with-your-best-friend cars that are tricked out with giant subwoofers packed into the trunk. When you ride in one of those monsters you can literally see your skin vibrate because the low frequency sound waves are so powerful (an effect that allows people to hear you coming from several blocks away).
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