We were asked to rebrand a tech product called the SmartMio (now known as the PowerDot), which is an electronic muscle stimulator you can control with your phone via Bluetooth.
Renamed NERVE, we revamped the device into a garment that allows gamers to experience the only uncharted territory in the virtual reality frontier: haptic feedback.
How do you rebrand a simple device designed for muscle stimulation? Our team discovered that ENS devices had a wide range of sensations ranging from a very faint tickle to a heavy pressure. We decided that the simple, easily programmed device could be paired with a visual VR device such as an Oculus Rift and converted into a haptic feedback device for gamers.
The future of gaming is virtual reality. It's already here in a big way with the Oculus Rift. But true virtual reality has always been thought of in two parts: sight and touch. Oculus has already fulfilled the sight portion of the virtual reality prophecy, and we created an idea to fulfill the touch portion: NERVE.
Imagine embarking on a virtual reality journey with the Oculus Rift. You're walking through a forest, and you can suddenly feel the low-hanging vines brushing your shoulders. Oculus can't make you feel those sensations, but the combination of Oculus and NERVE can.
Utilizing the ENS technology provided by SmartMio, we expanded it into a full upper body garment. The main hardware on the chest would receive signals from the game and trigger the ENS signals, creating sensations that range from pressure, to tingling, to jerking, like from the recoil of a gun.
I built a working prototype of the garment using an Arduino to control a muscle stimulator that I deconstructed. The hardware casing on the chest was 3D printed and sewn into the shirt and I built the ENS pads into the fabric on the bicep area to display the muscle stimulation in a live demonstration during our presentation.