‘3rd Space’ vest will help gamers feel the impact

22 Oct 2007

A high-tech vest that was developed for medical training will soon be available to give a more visceral experience to the videogame experience.

The ‘3rd Space’ vest, designed by Dr Mark Ombrellaro, uses air pressure and feedback from computer games to deliver pneumatic thumps to the spots on players’ torsos where they would have been struck were they actually on the battlefields.

“It was originally designed as a medical device,” Ombrellaro said while letting gamers try the vest at the E for All video game exposition in Los Angeles.

“It was designed to give medical exams via the internet to prisoners, the elderly, those in rural communities and other isolated people.”

The medical version of the vest is more sophisticated, enabling doctors sitting at their computers to prod, poke and press patients’ bodies from afar and get feedback on what they are virtually feeling.

That model is pending approval by the US Food and Drug Administration, which wants to be assured that diagnoses made using the vests are reliable.

“You can teleconference with patients but you are missing the hands-on,” the vascular surgeon said. “Being able to do that is the last step to tele-health.”

TN Games is based in technology giant Microsoft’s hometown of Redmond, Washington.

“We’ve had some Microsoft people check it out,” Ombrellaro said.

The 3rd Space vest will retail in America for US$189. It will be launched in November with the new installment of the popular multi-platform franchise, Call of Duty (pictured) and a custom-made title.

A 3rd Space vest that mimics the feeling of G-forces and turning pressures for flight and car games is to be launched early next year, after Ombrellaro’s company TN Games finds exciting titles to match it with.

The vest will be available in black, pink and camouflage.

By Joe Griffin