Story of the week: Haptic Turk lets you fly a handglider

We’ve seen a lot of Oculus Rift applications pop up lately, but this one’s quite extraordinary. Haptic Turk allows for a truly immersive gaming experience with full rotational freedom and even special effects by… letting your friends hold you up, push you around and spray water in your face.

The concept behind the Haptic Turk is taken from The Turk. This 18th century chess “machine” fooled chess players into thinking they’re playing against a brilliant chess computer, while they were simply playing against a Turkish human player inside the machine. The Haptic Turk uses the same idea players to create a virtual reality: the “turkers” lift the player, push him around and even spray water in his face when he goes through a waterfall. Turkers receive their commands through an app on their mobile phones, which are generated in real-time by the player’s game.

We found this an interesting approach at low-cost virtual reality, using human intelligence and movement instead of big expensive equipment. It’s also a deeper form on human-computer interaction: humans don’t just interact with a machine, they become an essential part of the machine. Some basic training is probably required for the turkers to learn the commands, but other than that it’s just a matter of getting a bunch of friends together, connect and start playing. Just don’t start fighting over who gets to fly and who gets to turk! 😉


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