One of the most beautiful things about the technology industry is that it’s an ever-changing, continuously-developing world, open to and capable of adapting itself as science evolves. One of the biggest questions in the tech industry currently is, of course, that of virtual reality; will it really reach the potential it’s been trying to live up to for thirty years, and if so… when?
But VR isn’t the only interesting development in this industry of late. Wearables are also becoming increasingly popular, having started out in areas such as medicine, with the hearing aid; calculator watches in the 1980s; and more recently, sports devices such as step counters and heart rate trackers. Lately wearables have started to expand into other areas, and as with many new technologies, gaming has been an obvious place to start. We’re about to take a look at a few of the most interesting developments to date:
In a world where health is a concern of increasing importance for many people, yet physical activity appears to be declining, SuperSuit have come up with an excellent solution to get both children and adults away from eye-damaging screens and out into the real world. Dubbed the world’s first wearable gaming platform, SuperSuit combines physical activity with technology to provide tech-savvy players with the best of both worlds and allow them to truly “live their gaming experiences”.
We already saw with Pokemon GO just how much of an effect technology can have on getting people out and about, so capitalising on this discovery with innovations such as SuperSuit seems like a logical and effective progression. The suit comes with a mobile app that tracks and records physical activity, so users can see later just how beneficial the game has been.
Comprised of two main pieces – a glove for shooting and a vest with targets on the front and back – and fifteen games included, the suit contains haptic technology, meaning that players can feel immediately when they’ve been hit. Finally – a way to make exercise fun!
Though VR is undoubtedly already very immersive, one aspect that could still stand to improve is the way people experience touch inside the VR world. And in non-VR gaming, the necessity to improve immersivity is even more important. Thalmic Labs’ device Myo can help with this. Described as helping users “take control of [their] digital world from a distance”, it’s a band which sits on the upper arm and, using sensors, allows users to control their actions simply by making gestures. The sensors are able to read electrical activity such as fist clenching, arm waving and finger movement, and with the band weighing only three ounces, it should be non-intrusive and easy to wear.
Due to its built-in gyroscope, accelerometer and magnetometer, it can measure speed and direction of arm movement. That means precise, accurate movements in-game simply by moving your arm. And as well as allowing you to play games such as Audiosurf and Minecraft wirelessly, Myo can also assist with actions such as skipping the boring bits of a YouTube video, helping you give even more polished presentations and combining your digital world with your real one much more seamlessly. And who doesn’t want that?
Who says wearables have to be limited to armbands? Not the creators of Teslasuit – they’ve come up with a way to get your entire body involved. Imagine this: you’re mid-VR game, in the middle of a really intense experience; you think this couldn’t possibly get any more realistic – you couldn’t possibly be any more engaged. And then you start to feel the first drops of rain; a cold breeze sends a chill through your bones; and a sudden explosive jolt knocks all the air from your lungs and leaves you reeling. Hopefully this is the closest you will ever get to receiving a bullet in the chest.
So here’s what you need for this engrossing experience: besides a virtual reality headset and a PC or smartphone capable of running VR, the suit consists of a belt, which contains the main control unit, haptic feedback gloves, a vest and trousers. The Teslasuit haptic library can target areas all across the body, including stimulating multiple muscle groups at the same time. Capable of allowing players to feel sensations such as touch, wind, water, and temperature changes, as well as using mild electric pulses to demonstrate heavy impacts, this bodysuit truly will allow us to, as is Teslasuit’s motto, feel what we play – which is pretty much the dream, isn’t it?
SlotsMillion.com, and its parent company ALEA, created the world’s first real-money high-end virtual reality casino in 2015. SlotsMillion VR is a fully functional, Oculus-ready casino on the 80th floor of a skyscraper in a futuristic, Blade Runner-esque cityscape. Once inside, players can prop up the bar, choose between 40 immersive 3D slots games, interact with other users, and experience very realistic sensations of vertigo when they lean against the windows and look down. There’s even a balcony so they can go outside and gaze upon the futuristic city below, and from which it’s possible to watch a massive screen showing slots introductions, movie clips and music videos.
SlotsMillion has taken existing games from developers like NextGen, Microgaming and NetEnt and placed them inside a social and immersive 3D environment; injecting the most popular 2D games into cabinets within a virtual reality playground. This way, players can really experience the sights and sounds of a real casino from the comfort of their own home, with added extras like exhilarating explosions of 3D graphics upon big wins – creating a truly electric experience.
Continuing the trend of ‘feeling the game’, SubPac have created a wearable that allows you to ‘feel’ audio. Sound is an extremely important aspect of immersion, but even the best headphones out there, with the best possible sound quality, just don’t quite hit the spot sometimes. This device will allow you to not just hear sound, but experience it.
Coming in two forms – either a mobile backpack or a seated version – SubPac transmits low frequencies to your body, giving you a physical experience of the sound you’re hearing. It makes minimal or no noise, meaning it’s completely unintrusive to those around you, and because there are no headphones involved, you don’t have to worry so much about your hearing.
The advantages that ‘feeling’ sound could have for gaming could be untold. For instance, sound in video games can be used to manipulate and inform players – imagine if it were possible to be so in tune with your virtual world that you would be able to rely on your instincts just as much in-game as you do in real life. You would be able to sense people coming before you see them, leading to much faster response times and higher scores. You would be able to literally feel your environment, as though you were connected to it. How could that not be exciting?
NetEnt’s VR Gonzo
NetEnt’s first foray into the VR medium is a conversion of one of their most popular slots of all time, Gonzo’s Quest. But in Gonzo’s Quest VR, the player is transported “inside” the slot machine, and into “the universe” of the slot. As with the original, the game follows the quest of the conquistador, Gonzalo Pizarro (Gonzo), to find El Dorado, the fabled lost city of gold, hidden deep in the Amazon Jungle.
Obstructing the way to the city is the a wall of tumbling blocks which form the reels and game mechanics of the slot. Can you hit the right combo to find the route through to untold riches?
Of course, since this is VR, the player can look around them 360 degrees while interacting with the fun animated cartoon characters, Gonzo and his pet parrot. If you think slot machines are dull and one-dimensional, prepare to have your mind blown.
Join Games VR Kleopatra developed with Parallel 66
Like Gonzo’s quest, Kleopatra allows the player to become fully immersed inside the slot. Set in “Kleopatra’s” private throne chamber, the developers have done a great job of creating a sense of grand scale using mobile VR technology. Join Games has opted for a game that can be played on smartphones, it said recently, to ensure maximum mobile VR market penetration.
But that’s not all. The developers have created a “Look and Move™” aspect to the game, a mechanic that enables the player to navigate the chamber and play the slots simply by looking at objects. At no time does the player need to touch the HMD and there is no need for a hand controller either. The player simply needs to “Think it, Look at It, and it Happens™.”
VR has the capacity to completely re-imagine casino gaming as we know it, making it more palatable to the millennial generation, and nowhere is that more evident than in Kleopatra.
These are just a few of the advancements that have taken place within the gaming industry over the last couple of years – and frankly, we can’t wait to see where it all goes next.