Immersive experiences seek to engage the full sensory system in ways that words, pictures, or touch alone cannot. With respect to the haptic system, however, physical feedback has been provided primarily with handheld tactile experiences or vibration-based designs, largely ignoring both pressure receptors and the full upper-body area as conduits for expressing meaning that is consistent with sight and sound. We extend the potential for immersion along these dimensions with the Force Jacket, a novel array of pneumatically-actuated airbags and force sensors that provide precisely directed force and high-frequency vibrations to the upper body. We describe the pneumatic hardware and force control algorithms, user studies to verify perception of airbag location and pressure magnitude, and subsequent studies to define full-torso, pressure and vibration-based feel effects such as punch, hug, and snake moving across the body. We also discuss the use of those effects in prototype virtual reality applications.
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