Zehnder + Teslasuit Part 1
Zehnder’s Director of Project Management, Craig Shultz, trying out the Teslasuit
You might remember us telling you about Teslasuit, a haptic suit company we met on our visit to the Consumer Electronics Show this year. Teslasuit is on the cutting edge of wearable technology with a full body suit that tracks movement and bio-feedback (such as ECG readings) and allows the wearer to feel haptic feedback in the form of pulses, pressure and temperature changes. It’s a powerful tool that adds a layer of physical control and sense of touch to virtual reality while providing data on and to the person wearing it.
We are excited to announce that we have partnered with Teslasuit to explore new use cases for this cutting edge technology. At Zehnder we always encourage ourselves and our clients to look toward the future. In this case the future is already here. So whether you are an energy company interested in using the Teslasuit for hazardous job training, a hospital using it to train ER teams or a brand looking to give potential customers a feel for your product, the Teslasuit might be the solution you are looking for.
As one of the first marketing agencies in the region to acquire a Teslasuit, we’d like to bring you along for the adventure as we get to know this new technology and explore ideas for both consumer and enterprise solutions.
“The Teslasuit is here!”
The Teslasuit arrived at the Zehnder offices in New Orleans along with a group of other techy boxes piled at our DevOps desk. And soon a small group of us gathered around the extra large box, ready to dig in.
The suit, which we ordered to measure, came out of the box looking ready for a superhero to wear. Its design is a combination of light, breathable materials and weighty wearable tech. There are stretchy materials, snaps and zippers that all work together to make the suit fit like a second skin.
Some of the team compared it to a wet suit, some said the jacket was fashionable enough to wear on their evening dinner date, others had dreams of becoming one of the Avengers. There was one thing we all agreed on – the Teslasuit was much more comfortable than any of us imagined a haptic suit could be.
As cool as the Teslasuit looked coming out of the box, we all knew that the real power of the suit happens when you plug it in.
The Teslasuit on display in Zehnder’s VR room.
Connecting the Suit
Teslasuit comes with a range of proprietary software that includes an API along with separate applications for motion tracking, bio-feedback data capture and haptic animation. With this robust set of tools at your fingertips, the first thing you sense is that the possibilities are endless. But before you begin exploring these endless possibilities, you have to calibrate the suit.
The suit is like a finely tuned instrument, intricately designed with separate channels for each anatomical section of your arms, back, chest and legs – all of which can be adjusted to a desired effect. Like tuning any instrument, it can be intimidating at first, but once you get the hang of it, the tuning becomes a fun warm-up in itself.
While calibrating the suit, it becomes obvious quickly that this is a precision technology fit for enterprise solutions.
The visual calibration tool allows you to choose which sensor you’d like to adjust. Sliders on the screen allow you to change the intensity and length of the pulse signal sent to each area. At its lowest setting the haptic pulse can be barely felt. The sensation is so slight that if you weren’t pushing the test button you might not be sure you were feeling anything at all. At its highest setting the electrical pulse can give you a literal kick in the pants. Like a doctor hitting you with a reflex hammer, the suit causes your muscles to react. While calibrating, you immediately see (or should I say, feel) why these suits are used in training for hazardous jobs and to promote muscle memory in athletes.
It’s easy to get lost in the experimentation of sending pulses through the suit to calibrate it. Luckily the calibration software helps you keep track by providing a handy table that shows your progress. Once you’ve fine tuned the calibration and checked all the boxes, it’s time to test your calibration against the motion tracking software.
Calibrating the Teslasuit for precision performance
Motion tracking is one of Teslasuit’s most important features. Teslasuit can be used to record movements of professionals so they can be used as a guide in training simulations. A person training for a hazardous job or improving their athletic skills can receive haptic signals that allow them to adjust their own movements to those of a professional’s.
Testing the suit’s calibration against the motion tracking is as simple as opening up the Teslasuit’s “Skeletool” software and striking a “T-pose.” Once you are synched, the on-screen avatar follows your every move. The more you kick around, dance, do squats and wave your arms, the more the motion tracking refines itself.
Capturing our Creative Operations Manager, Shea Duet’s movement with Teslasuit
With the Teslasuit calibrated and ready to go, it’s time to get into the fun part - feeling the haptic feedback.
A new sensation
You may have felt haptic feedback while using your smartphone. While you are playing a game and your phone physically “pops” when you get a point? That’s haptic feedback. When you receive a message on mute, the vibrations you feel are haptic feedback. The Teslasuit offers full control over these types of pulses and vibrations throughout the entire suit. An endless variety of sensations can be programmed into the suit.
We launched the Haptic Player and loaded a few preset haptic animations to test the feel of the Teslasuit. The preset haptic animations range from subtle sensations like “Light Rain,” “Light Snow,” and “Light Wind” to more jolting simulations, like a “Hard Front Kick” to the stomach or a “Heavy Bullet” in the back. Feeling these animations play through the Teslasuit, you could quickly sense how the realism of a virtual reality gaming or training environment can be taken to a whole new level. Other preset animations such as “Natural Touch” and “Massage” give you a sense of the Teslasuit’s potential use for rehabilitation.
The Haptic Player allows you to test the suit using preset animations or your own custom animations.
Ready to explore the beyond.
Over the next few months, we will be exploring use cases for the Teslasuit and sharing our discoveries. We already have some ideas in mind for the energy sector, tourism, healthcare and sports/entertainment. We’ll even look beyond enterprise solutions to applications for consumer entertainment and gaming and explore how brands might use haptic technology in their marketing.
While we are sharing our thoughts, we’d love to hear your ideas and feedback as well. If you’d like to talk to us about Teslasuit please reach out to Jen Boneno at firstname.lastname@example.org or 225-448-0756 for more information.