Sony Synesthesia VR Suit
Dubbed the Synesthesia VR suit, this particular haptic feedback peripheral was conceptualized by the designer of Rez, Tetsuya Mizuguchi and his team of game developers. The suit however is not the the generalized haptic designed for almost all games variety. To understand the optimal use of the suit is to understand Rez, the game itself
Actually, the word Synesthesia has a deeper meaning. The term defines a neurological condition though not dangerous, is estimated to affect one out of 28 people. Synesthesia is the blending of the senses such as vision, taste, sound, haptics and even smell. A person affected with Synesthesia has the neural pathways of their brain crossing each other. They may experience multiple sensations at one time. A good example is those people whose vision is affected by sound. They can actually see and hear sound (as beat, pitch, rhythm or plain noise) as flashes of color corresponding to the sound. There are even those that can actually taste words as they experience a certain taste on their tongues when reading or seeing specific things. The expression “This gives me a bad taste” has an actual physical meaning to these people.
The suit was named after this condition because combining it with vision via a monitor or the PSVR HMD and sound through headsets, multiple senses are crossed. With the suit prototype, the experience however is sort of tailor made or in sync with Rez Infinite.
We now go to Rez to understand why the Synesthesia suit prototype was developed the way it is. Rez is a very unique and original game. Originally developed by Mizuguchi and his team for the SEGA Dreamcast and PlayStation 2, it was first released in Japan in 2001. The next year, the game had reached Western shores. The concept of Rez is based on sound-music beats using the techno-pop music genre as a basis for it. The game has a very complex design from conceptualization, to the development of combining the necessary elements of musical beats synchronized with the awesome animation.
You control an avatar that starts off as mass of light which continually evolves into a human form as you progress from level to level within the game. The game play mechanics is simple to use as you have to shoot down light objects in the cybernetic network environment you are traveling through. Tou have to lock-onto these threats and aim with a target reticule as they come to meet you head-on. If you miss, they will hit you which will bring your health down demoting your avatar to a lower level. The more you get hit, the more you turn back into a blob of light until you funally get De-Rezzed.
All through the while in the game, as you move on and hit your targets, you hear a musical beat instead of an explosion. As you keep hitting them, the beats pile up on one another and the result is an awesome techno-mix that reverberates through the game. At that time, Rez came with a special peripheral (though only available at first in Japan). It was called the Trance Vibrator. It kind of looks like a mouse but it’s a usb vibrator you can place anywhere on yourself (gamers did make a sexual joke out of it) as it will vibrate to the techno-beat of the game in amazing sync. The haptic sensation was hypnotic combined with the game play and the awesome visuals.
As amusing as it may sound, the Synesthesia VR suit is the Trance Vibrator exponentially maximized for Rez in VR also known as Rez Infinite. The PS4, HMD, headset and the Synesthesia suit gives an experience like no other when playing the game. The suit has 26 haptic actuators spread thoroughly and evenly all over your body. Imagine 26 Trance Vibrators pulsating to the beat all over you. The Trance Vibrator did not provide just a mild beat, it vibrated like mad in sync to the techno-beat getting louder or softer, slower or faster depending on the state of your game play. If the vibrating mouse like thingy was enough to give you the jibes, what more the Synesthesia VR suit.
As of now, Sony has not yet announced any price or release date for the suit. The prototype seems to only be intended for Rez Infinite so we can only speculate what Sony has planned for the overall game compatibility of the suit, as well as another external peripheral to complete the PS4 and PSVR gaming experience.