association for computing machinery

Virtual-reality wrist straps let you feel like you’re being punched

Virtual reality games are about to get a whole lot more realistic.


Gavia Baker-Whitelaw


Published Nov 12, 2015   Updated May 27, 2021, 4:12 pm CDT

Virtual-reality tech is already accessible in rudimentary but promising ways—like remote-controlled sex toys—so it was only a matter of time before someone found a way to replicate humanity’s other favorite hobby: fighting.

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The Impacto device, developed by researchers in Germany, simulates the sensation of being punched or kicked. It uses haptic feedback and electrical muscle stimulation to make it feel like the user’s limb is experiencing a real, physical impact.

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This video from the Impacto’s developers shows how it can be used with an Oculus headset, demonstrating how muscle contractions and haptic contact combine to create a realistic “punch” to the subject’s body. 

While Impacto is still in the prototype stage, it’s easy to see how popular it would be for sport and combat games. However, it’s definitely something you’d want to have rigorously tested before it hits the market.

Screengrab via Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)/YouTube

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*First Published: Nov 12, 2015, 10:03 am CST