As we were meeting with folks across the PC and gaming industry at CES this week, they kept asking me (along with the Uber drivers) what the most interesting and unique thing that I had seen while wandering the halls. Sure, I could have stumbled and talked about how no fewer than five booths were selling their ODM/OEM twist on the same mice, keyboards and headsets, but instead, I talked about the experience that i had with the bHaptics TACTOT Vest at their booth.
bHaptics is attempting to revolutionize gaming with its suite of haptic feedback accessories. They first started with the VR market where they developed the vest as well as components for arms, hands, feet and heads. Now they are pivoting the TACTOT vest to be for the PC market and selling it on its own.
The TACTOT vest integrates with games via the 7.1 audio from each game. Based upon the positioning and amplitude of the audio, the vest will provide haptic feedback to its wearer. Game profile for a handful of titles have been created to help filter out sounds like your player’s own footsteps, your own gun fire, game music and other sounds. bHaptic says that more profiles are in the works as well as further refinement of the existing profiles. They are also starting to form relationships with game studios to get direct integration into the top games and game engines (but this may be a ways down the road). Users can also adjust the game profiles on their own or create their own in the event there isn’t a profile available or they do not like the one offered.
The TACTOT vest connects over Bluetooth Low Energy and has 40 individually controllable haptic feedback points.
We first tried out the full ensemble of bHaptics gear in a VR game where we donned the head piece, arm bands and the TACTOT vest. We felt feedback when we got punched or shot in the game on the vest and the wrist components provided recoil after firing shots. Overall, it was a decently enhanced experience, but it did not seem to make the experience significantly more immersive. We suspect that the intensity was turned down a bit too low for us to properly feel it during that demo.
Moving on to the PC implementation, we donned another TACTOT vest and were placed on board a PUBG airplane and were tossed into the battleground. During the plane ride in, the vest was going wild due to the rumble of the airplane to the extent it got a bit uncomfortable (bHaptics is going to look at tuning that out in the future). Once I landed, I started moving around the battleground and started noticing every time another player as behind me that the vest would vibrate in the their location. It let me quickly spin around and see what the threat was before I was able to see or hear it. The ability to add the extra sense to the gaming environment is what caught my attention the most.
Overall, we were very impressed by the potential of the bHaptics TACTOT vest for the non-VR PC gaming experience. Adding the extra sense into the mix is something that could make a competitive difference in multiplayer FPS shooters and give folks the edge over the competition. Keeping in mind that support for today’s AAA games is fairly limited, it will be a leap of faith for you to shell out the asking price of $499 for the equipment on the hope that game support will come and be maintained over the years you own it. However, if you’re looking for an advantage that no-one else has, then you should consider the TACTOT.
As per usual, the link to Amazon for the TACTOT vest is a commissioned link and we’ll get a cut if you buy one through it.