Attendees of this spring's National Manufacturing Week could fly a helicopter simulator while enjoying a vibrating massage, thanks to a tactile flight vest designed by Navy flight surgeon Angus Rupert of the Naval Aerospace Medical Research Lab in Pensacola, Fla.
Actually, the vest vibrates in one of 28 points around a pilot's torso corresponding to a helicopter's position or motion over the ground.
Following the same sort of mechanism that lets us walk without thinking about it, the vest relegates the act of positioning to the tactile background, Rupert
explained.That way, a pilot can dedicate his
vision to other processing tasks, like finding and killing enemies.The vest is a result of Rupert's interest in how the body acquires data through its sense of touch.
Pull back on the joystick, and the flappers begin vibrating at the base of your spine.Keep pulling, and the vibration travels up the spine toward your neck.Swing the stick sideways, and the pulse bounces around to your side, continually providing an Earth reference.