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Testing out some VR equipment. Photo: Axios

While virtual reality headsets let you look and move around in a fictional world, VR hasn't yet been able to give users tactile experiences.

Several startups are working on that, and I've had the chance to try out a few over the past several months. One of them is created by Seattle-based HaptX, which officially launched Wednesday.

How it works: Unlike some other approaches that rely on electronic vibrations, HaptX takes a microfluidics-based approach that uses compressed air to help give items heft and texture in addition to basic tactile sense.

  • You can get a sense of the product in this video, but as with most haptic products, you really have to feel it for yourself.
  • In the demo you can feel raindrops hit your glove, pick flowers and, if you are brave, let a spider crawl up your hand. The feeling is reminiscent of the real world, but it's not nearly as precise. Still, it at least adds another sense to the VR mix.

Yes, but: HaptX is aiming for the enterprise market, not consumers. Its technology is priced in the thousands of dollars, affordable to governments and companies but out of the reach for most consumers.

Meanwhile, another effort, HoloSuit, spreads three dozen or more sensors across the body, including a jacket, pants and gloves. It allows for both motion capture and haptic feedback.

  • The 20-person company plans to start selling two developer versions of its product later this year, with prices starting at around $2,000.

Go deeper

Harry and Meghan accuse British royal family of racism

Photo: Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions via Reuters

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle delivered a devastating indictment of the U.K. royal family in their conservation with Oprah Winfrey: Both said unnamed relatives had expressed concern about what the skin tone of their baby would be. And they accused "the firm" of character assassination and "perpetuating falsehoods."

Why it matters: An institution that thrives on myth now faces harsh reality. The explosive two-hour interview gave an unprecedented, unsparing window into the monarchy: Harry said his father and brother "are trapped," and Markle revealed that the the misery of being a working royal drove her to thoughts of suicide.

Updated 4 hours ago - Axios Twin Cities

In photos: Thousands rally for George Floyd ahead of Derek Chauvin's trial

Demonstrators on March 7 outside the Hennepin County Government Center, where the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, charged with murdering George Floyd, will begin in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

Thousands of protesters marched through Minneapolis' streets Sunday, urging justice for George Floyd on the eve of the start of former police officer Derek Chauvin's trial over the 46-year-old's death, per AFP.

The big picture: Chauvin faces charges for second-degree murder and manslaughter over Floyd's death last May, which ignited massive nationwide and global protests against racism and for police reform. His trial is due to start Monday, with jury selection procedures.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
7 hours ago - Health

Pfizer CEO feels "liberated" after taking COVID vaccine

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla. Photo: "Axios on HBO"

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla tells "Axios on HBO" that he recently received his first of two doses of the company's coronavirus vaccine.

Why it matters: Bourla told CNBC in December that company polling found that one of the most effective ways to increase confidence in the vaccine was to have the CEO take it.

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