Disney’s pneumatic ‘Force Jacket’ could be the key to awesome VR theme parks

As we navigate further and further into this strange Ready Player One-like future that plenty of tech companies are investing heavily, Disney wants to ensure that people can feel content in the most life-like way possible.

Disney Research has shown off some research into the world of haptic feedback via a vest with “pneumatically-actuated airbags.”

The “Force Jacket” is powered by a jacket filled with 26 air packets attached via tubes to a machine that inflates and deflate them with precision at the appropriate time. Teamed with a virtual reality experience, the jacket can deliver experiences that make you feel like a virtual object is pushing up against you. In the case of Disney’s early tests, that could mean feeling like you’re getting hit by a snowball.

While a lot of people have played around with body suits and vests sporting haptic feedback, there’s no replacement to actually feeling real pressure rather than a weird little jiggle. This definitely seems like a good direction for Disney to be looking in as it explores the role that virtual reality experiences could have in their amusement parks. The company has launched a Star Wars themed experience from The VOID at its Disney resorts and it’s clear that there’s an endless amount of potential from virtual reality combined with physical interactions.

Is it something that will eventually be in people’s homes? Only if you subscribe to a particularly dismal view of the future, but! this does seem to have some real applications for location-based VR experiences in the future, though they’ll have to shrink stuff down a bit first.