While most projects are busy mimicking the simple sensations of touching, pushing, hitting, or squeezing objects in the palms of their hands, the Japanese have gone as far as inflicting physical pain.
H2L, a company founded with the support of Sony a decade ago, has created an armband product to detect the flexion of human muscles. It allows a user avatar in the meta world to mimic body movements. At the same time, it allows people to feel the presence and weight of a person.
The technology uses electrical stimulation to control arm muscles and mimic sensations such as catching a ball. The head and co-founder of H2L, Emi Tamaki, has said that feeling pain allows us to turn the meta world into the real with an enhanced sense of presence and immersion.
H2L has a FirstVR controller with optical sensors for muscle movement recognition. It went into production and sale in Japan in 2018. They also have PossessedHand, an EMG stimulator with 28 electrodes. H2L conquered Kickstarter in 2015 with its UnlimitedHand project.
The UnlimitedHand is worn on the arm like a bracelet and contains a muscle contraction sensor, a spatial motion sensor, a muscle electro stimulator, and a vibration motor. The spatial positioning and muscle contraction sensors provide movement to the avatar, and the stimulator makes your hand feel feedback from the app.
Electrical stimulation allows the user to broadcast the sensation of the impact of virtual events, whether picking up and carrying objects of different weights, receiving punches, kicks, and so on.
To date, few industry entrepreneurs have focused on pain. It is a consequence of the interaction of objects with the body. It does not have to be intolerable and can make digital universes more realistic. By focusing on this, H2L has resonated in the media, controlling people's feelings even in reality.
H2L was born ten years ago with financial backing from Sony. The head and co-founder of H2L, Emi Tamaki, has set a goal of "freeing people from any limitations imposed by body, space, and time" by 2029. And H2L developments will find many applications.
The startup has raised about ¥1 billion and is valued at ¥5 billion. The company plans to go public and raise ¥20 billion in the next five years.