bHaptics Announces Pre-orders for TactSuit X Series Haptic Vests, Starting at $300 – Road to VR

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bHaptics, the South Korea-based startup making haptic accessories for VR, today opened pre-orders for two new versions of its TactSuit haptic vests.

Starting today, you can put your money down on two new models, the TactSuit X40 ($500) and TactSuit X16 ($300).

TactSuit X40 includes 40 Eccentric Rotating Mass (ERM) vibration motors dispersed across the front and back of the vest, boasting 18+ hours of playtime from its 9,800 mAh lithium-ion battery.

Its $300 little cousin, the TactSuit X16, reduces the number of ERM motors down to 16, and includes a smaller battery at 4,900 mAh rated for an overall playtime of 22+ hours, the company says. Both versions feature Bluetooth 4.0 and also an external audio port for non-supported games.

The TactSuit X16 is also shorter in length compared to X40, something bHaptics says was designed to not “bunch up when you sit down for PC games, etc.”

Presumably, bHaptics is eyeing the at-home user with X16 and straddling the out-of-home market with X40, as the X40 appears to replace much of the functionality of its enterprise-focused Tactot DK3 vest.

In all, bHaptics says their vests natively support 20+ SteamVR titles, including games such as Onward, Thrill of the Fight, and Sairento VR. By adding a bespoke mod file, you can also play games such as Half-Life: Alyx, Skyrim VR and Fallout 4 VR.

Native support for Quest games is also currently pretty limited, including Onward, Hyperdash, Thrill of the Fight, Death Horizon: Reloaded, Crisis VRigade, Apex Construct, Sairento VR, Operation Serpens, Let’s Go Chopping, MissionX: Lite, and Realms of Eternity.

To bridge the gap somewhat, the vests’ audio-based haptics mode also lets you plug in and play non-supported SteamVR and Quest platform games, as it takes basic audio objects like gunshots and translates them into a haptic rumble.

Pre-orders are said to start shipping December 10th, taking between an estimated 3-5 business days to arrive depending on your location.

We got a chance to try bHaptics early developer kit back at Gamescom 2017, and the basic hardware platform actually offers a pretty unique experience. The vest’s haptic motors can ‘dumbly’ buzz for a generalized rumble effect, but can also activate in specific locations on the front and back of the vest to simulate things like gunshots, punches, and sword slices.

Ok, so a buzzy punch isn’t really a perfect stand-in for any of those sorts of things, but it’s definitely a cool experience if you ever get a chance to try it. Still, at the time I didn’t find it a good enough value proposition as a consumer due to the overall lack of supported games—a chicken and the egg problem if there ever was one. And while attracting developers to include native support still remains an uphill battle for the company a few years later, it’s possible that may change now with the entrance of X16 at a more consumer-friendly price point.

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