Haptic Gloves: https://haptx.com/
Haptx is a company researching new ways to implement force feedback into VR. Their flagstone product is an exoskeleton glove that uses ribbons to pull on your fingers to simulate touch in a virtual reality environment. They are pioneering a much needed solution to a huge sensory gap in the VR experience. Current VR technologies use controllers or motion control, and a common complaint is that the user cannot feel objects as they pick them up or interact with them. Haptx has solved this problem and we are just waiting for a consumer model. As seen in the video above, Destin from the youtube channel, "SmarterEveryDay", was lucky enough to get a hands on experience. He describes the stunning sensation of picking up objects, rain drops, and a fox walking on his palm.
Watching Destin interact with the demo environment really made me want to try this. I am dying to play with this tech. Watching him describe this is like listening to someone describe a painting on the radio--it just doesn't suffice. I can't wait to get my hands on it. Haptx is tackling one of the biggest issues with VR. VR is missing one of the most important senses; touch. This is not just vibration. As the ribbons pull on the front of your fingers your fingers are limited to the volume of the object, so the volume attribute of an object can be conveyed to the user. It's incredible. The glove is also outfitted with extremely sensitive presser pads all over the glove so you can feel other phenomena that aren't conveyed through squeezing like, grass, rain drops, water, a running motor, and foot fall from creatures. I think Haptx will be the first company to hit the consumer market with a real exoskeleton glove.
What would I Build?
I immediately see a new way to do a castle defense game where you are flicking enemies away, grabbing and plopping down new troops, and drawing lines in the sand to build walls and towers. Strategy games already have a particular type of 'god-view' for troop and resource placement that would be perfect for this technology. Beyond that, the obvious AAA implementation would be for a first-person shooter so you could feel the gun you are holding and feel the trigger pull.
Kinematic Motion Capture Suit Without IR Cameras: https://www.xsens.com
The Xsens MVN suit allows motion capture outside of a motion capture studio. Instead of IR trackers, the suit is outfitted with numerous kinetic measurement sensors that keep track of where they are in space. I think this type of motion capture technology will have a huge impact on the film industry. Regular actors will be able to interact with suited animation actors on set, without having to be recorded separately. Motion capture technology has been stuck in expensive elaborate studios for years now, and it's time to move forward. Xsens has also created a version of the suit that can be used for the sport and medical fields which keeps tracks of the wearer's vitals in real-time. The video above is pretty incredible considering that the motion capture data we see juxtaposed in it is actually the real-time data, uncleaned by an animator. Hopefully a suit like this can lower the overhead (cost/time) of current motion capture; which now is a full-on production involving large teams and lots of man-hours cleaning up raw motion data. Further, a suit that doesn't need a studio will revolutionize the motion capture workflow for film.
What would I build?
This is a difficult answer for this technology because it's actually removing the need for animators, or motion capture specialists. Like I mentioned earlier, I think this is particularly useful for movies. I would implement this technology to replace green screen studios, and I would put a strong focus on on-location shooting. You could shoot a LoTR movie where the Gollum actor could be filmed interacting real-time with live actors.
HD Rumble (Nintendo Switch): https://www.nintendo.com/switch/features/
I never thought that vibration feedback would be interesting again until I saw the Nintendo Switch reveal for their new HD rumble technology. The difference between old rumble and Nintendo's HD rumble is that they aren't using spinning bar-bells anymore, they are using 'linear actuators' (similar to what is used in the new iPhones and Apple Watches). The rumble effect is much more nuanced and subtle, with a faster response than the old rumble technology. I have experienced it myself with many of the new Switch games, specifically Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It is a very new feeling, considering it's simply and improvement on old technology. You can feel the difference between how many objects are clashing and what materials they are made of. Improving on rumble feels like a quintessential Nintendo move. They are always implementing novel new ways to interact with games that set them outside of the Microsoft vs. Sony race for realistic graphics.
What would I Build?
I would try to build actual game mechanics around HD rumble. The game Tumbleweed has already attempted this. I think the nuanced sense of vibration is robust enough to be used as an actually game mechanic. I bet this would work well as a way-finder instead of looking at a map. Also, I bet this would be a great platform to build small-scale, casual games for the blind.