“This is the first step towards the metaverse,” Chaudhuri of French start-up Actronika told AFP at this week’s VivaTech trade show in Paris.
The vest can give users the sensation of being buffeted by the wind or even feel a monster’s breath on their back, and it can be used to enhance movie watching, education or gaming.
It is a family-friendly vision of the 3D immersive internet, now widely known as the metaverse, and sits well with some interactive experiences already widely available for children — like virtual trips to museums.
But campaigners and experts are increasingly warning that the wider ecosystem needs to start acting on child safety to ensure the benign vision is realised.
“The biggest challenge is kids are getting exposed to content that is not intended for them,” said Kavya Pearlman, whose NGO XR Safety Initiative campaigns to ensure immersive technology will be safe for everyone.
The problems she envisages range from children being exposed to sexual and violent material, to worries over young people being used as content creators or having inappropriate contact with adults.
Even though the metaverse has not yet been widely adopted and the technology is still in development, early users have already brought to light serious issues.
One woman’s allegation that her avatar was sexually assaulted in the metaverse sparked global outrage.
Worries about the future of the technology have only grown as the economic opportunities have become clearer.