Aura Systems Inc has come up with what it calls the first virtual reality vest, a gadget that vibrates to the sounds of video games, television programmes, radio and recorded music (CI No 2,497). Named the Interactor, it makes you feel every explosion, shot, punch, kick, zap or shout in a movie or game, the company says. The Interactor is a black, box-like gizmo less than a foot square, which is worn on the back and secured with straps. It can be plugged into the headphone jack of a television, video recorder, video game player or stereo. Just as a speaker vibrates a paper cone to create sound waves in the air, the Interactor vest moves against your body. Aura Systems has been letting consumers test the vest at shopping centres this summer and the firm says it has had a good response from teenagers. Aura, based in El Segundo, California, develops new commercial and consumer applications for actuators, mechanical devices that control movement, such as the arm of a robot or rudder of a ship. An actuator is central to the workings of the vest. The seven-year-old firm was a defence company, whose work included building actuators for flight simulators. Now it puts them into the back of cinema seats, video arcade systems and the floors of bars and discos. It is also working with other firms to add a tactile dimension to virtual reality. The vest came out last month at $100, UKP60 here.
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