Haptic Turk is a prototype game that uses your friends as virtual robots to do immersive motion simulation at home. The research project from the Hasso Plattner Institute in Germany demoed a flight simulator variant at CHI2014 last week: the player wears 3D goggles and lies in two slings held by four friends—the "human actuators" or turkers. A fifth can do special effects, inventing sensations with whatever is on hand.

The player's display is mirrored either on a screen, a projector, or individual phones/tablets for the turkers, who play a Dance Dance Revolution-style game of triggering the right motions at the right time. The system generates motion instructions for the turkers by detecting collisions in advance (so the system seems better suited for slower simulations, such as hang glider flight rather than car racing).


But accuracy isn't really the point. Haptic Turk adds a physical and social dimension to simulations that could otherwise be physically isolating. It's also exercise. The paper says that "fatigue kicks in after two rounds of turking."

There are lots of motion simulators out there, from -Costco's $150,000 racing car that doesn't do g-force to NASA-style robots like the Universal Motion Simulator. But even a crowdfunded student-made racing car sim that looked like the real deal (but didn't get commercialized) wouldn't have been cheap. Force-feedback doesn't follow Moore's Law; these machines are made of metal and motors, and they're going to stay expensive.


Is Haptic Turk the answer? [University of Potsdam]