Exit Suit Opens Virtual Doors: R&D project gains global recognition at AWE
The EXIT SUIT developed by Willie Warren, supported by a StoryFutures R&D On Demand grant, aims to be the world’s first commercially available full-body performance suit for use within VR environments. This innovative concept seeks to ‘physically take humans into the digital age’ by affording an entire range of extreme movementssuch as flying with both feet off the ground and providing physical ‘force-feedback’, allowing the user to perceive weight and resistance from objects within the environment.
The EXIT SUIT is a worn exoskeleton with a strikingly unique design, created using Willie’s traditional furniture craft techniques, joinery and metalwork. This innovative approach looks to re-imagine the interplay between the human body and technology. The initial R&D project with StoryFutures was undertaken alongside partners from Kai Lab who assisted on incorporating printed circuit-boards within the suit. Royal Holloway, University of London’s Lecturer in Digital Media and Technology, David Young, provided Games Engine research support, including creating an Application Programming Interface (API) which allowed for communication between the physical suit and virtual worlds. The next step for the suit is storytelling, and lead creator Willie is looking to explore the possibilities, working alongside game artists and designers, to create immersive environments that will maximise the suit’s capabilities.
Willie Says, “I discovered StoryFutures at a time when I was struggling to progress my project. I had a working body support and good understanding of how to push it forward but needed funds and more specialist help - they agreed to give me the R+D funding to get the project to a stage where others could more easily grasp it's potential.”
Since the collaboration with StoryFutures, the EXIT SUIT design has been launched as open-source under a Creative Commons Non-Commercial Licence – allowing gaming and VR enthusiasts to build the suit for themselves. Over 200 makers have expressed an interest in making a suit under the Creative Commons licence. This community-based approach serves to galvanise the sector and lends itself to new innovations, unlocking an array of different applications for the suit. The EXIT SUIT has received significant interest within the industry, having been featured by YouTube content creator and VR fanatic ThrillSeeker as ‘The Absolute Craziest VR Device I have EVER Seen’ as part of his weekly news digest. EXIT SUIT also won an Auggie Award (the AWEsome award for Best in Show) at AWE USA – the leading international XR expo – hosted in California in June. On the back of this, Willie has been invited to showcase a new version of the design at the AWE Europe 2023 Expo in Vienna in October, which will hint towards a commercial version of the suit, adapted for use in Location Based Entertainment venues (LBEs) such as museums and arcades.
We’re excited to see where things will go next for the EXIT SUIT – you can find out more about the suit and how to get involved here.