AxonVR’s HaptX system is an enormous metal box with some buttons and blinking lights. It’s very much a prototype. You put on a HTC Vive headset, stick your left hand into the box, and then experience the magic of a tiny virtual deer taking a warm and fluffy nap on your outstretched palm.
AxonVR’s mystery box is able to replicate tactile and thermal sensations, with force feedback. It does it all at once, and very compellingly. The resolution of the tactile sensations is spectacular, from the edges of a cube, to the roundness of an apple, to the tiny prancing hooves of the deer. And when the deer tucks its little hooves underneath itself and lays down, you can feel how warm and soft its belly is. The warmth is immediate, just like you’d expect, and it is the same with the dragon blowing fire, or the ice cube sliding around. There’s no noticeable latency, and the thermal sensations are powerful enough to be completely convincing. Ice feels like, well, ice, and fire feels like you’d imagine fire feeling if you could hold it without actually burning yourself.