Hardware Hack Lab

A Ubiquitous State Becomes An Electro-Haptic Reality

Ellen Pearlman

Posted by Ellen Pearlman

The Teslasuit is a 52 point climate controlled haptic feedback suit that is fully upgradable and can be used with VR systems like the Oculus Rift, Playstation and Xbox.

The Kickstarter photos of Tesla Studios commercial body suit, 2015
The Kickstarter photos of Tesla Studios commercial body suit, 2015

Their logo says "feel what you play". It comes equipped with electrodes that "move your muscles around" according to one user. That is because it uses EMS or electro-muscular stimulation.

User Anthony Brown gets a virtual but real massage through touch the dots
User Anthony Brown gets a virtual but real massage through touch the dots

The technology already exists in physical therapy to assist in pain relief and train muscle groups.

The touchsuit design
The touchsuit design

Its a wireless suit that incorporates tiny electric mesh sensors.

Heat mapping and motion sensors
Heat mapping and motion sensors

The suit can capture body movements and send them directly to whatever VR application is being used, or at least in theory. I would like to see a number of demonstrations to make sure there are no glitches. It also has a climate control system that responds to what you are doing inside the VR system, ie., the environment becomes hot if you are in the tropics or cold if you are in the virtual Arctic.

The Bluetooth enabled control belt
The Bluetooth enabled control belt

It has its own operating system and apps, like the virtual meeting app where users can transmit virtual hugs. The developers describe it as "durable, washable and comfortable to wear". They describe its uses for " gaming, virtual dating, health, wellbeing, education and virtual technologies, sport and fitness, science and engineering, psychology and real life training simulations, animation and many more." You know what is coming next, -the sex industry will be all over this in a nanosecond.

The Tesla Suit kickstarter page

The all-male team of the UK based company has a pretty cheeky sense of their ability to be god-like, but all in good humour.

The 'virtual hug' avatar

The only time a girl shows up in the promo videos is an avatar babe who is on the receiving end of a "virtual hug" from robotic hands. The only game that currently works with the suit is a virtual paintball game, but more should be in the pipeline.

Standard military uses - again. Calling DARPA, calling DARPA, MI6, do you read me?
Standard military uses - again. Calling DARPA, calling DARPA, MI6, do you read me?

Then there is artist Tiffany Trenda's 3D printed costume for her piece "Ubiquitous States" that "synchronises heartbeats through touch and sound to probe deeper complexities of human emotions".

Tiffany Trenda's suit #1

What a totally different approach! Her suit has ECG sensors in the fingertips. When Trenda touches someone's wrist of neck that persons's vital signals are picked up. Trenda's are monitored all the time and both are displayed on a front panel in the costume. Both also wear headphones to hear one another's heartbeat. When they synchronize the panel display turns from black to white.

Tiffany Trenda's suit #2

The piece is a collaboration between 3D Systems, the largest specialised 3D printing company in the world, award winning designer Janne Kyttenan, and Trenda.

Trenda at the Context Art Fair in Miami, December 2015
Trenda at the Context Art Fair in Miami, December 2015

What I really like is the artist's statement:

"In Veléry's The Conquest of Ubiquity, he describes the current state of our techno-obsessed culture where our tools of precision have changed our behaviors. Today, these tools are primarily our screens (smart phones, tablets, computers, etc.). They give us the ability to download, text, talk, and interact anywhere with the surface of the skin and surface of the computer. Thus, we are living in both the physical and the simulated world simultaneously and we are unable to fully engage in the present. Instead, we are hiding behind our devices and masking our primitive desires of having real time physical interactions. This questions the authenticity of our behaviors using these vernacular technologies. In Ubiquitous States, the performance will unite the heartbeats of both artist and the participant and will measure our emotional connections through the virtual."


Tiffany Trenda - 'Proximity Cinema,' 2013 in the Black Forest, Germany
Tiffany Trenda - "Proximity Cinema," 2013 in the Black Forest, Germany


Tiffany Trenda's suit #3
Artist Tiffany Trenda's idea of the full body suit is way different than Teslasuit's - This is a photo from her performance "Body Code", 2012 taken in Times Square, NY - which shows once again, the artworld gets it first.