GamesBeat

Immerz sensory gear — don't just play your games, feel them

Tech startup Immerz is launching new touch-feedback sensory gear today at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The KOR-fx platform is the core technology behind the gear, which wraps around your neck and has two pads that rest over your upper chest. When you fire a missile and it explodes, you feel the feedback in your chest. It also works with movies and music, making any form of entertainment feel more immersive.

The Cambridge, Mass.-based company has some testimonials from game testers on its site. It calls the technology “acousto-haptic” and says it will give a competitive advantage to gamers who play with it. I’m really not sure about that claim, but conceivably you can play better the more you feel you’re inside the game.

Imagine watching something like James Cameron’s hit 3-D Avatar movie and feeling the feedback in the action. The feedback is directional, meaning you can feel the direction it’s coming from, like an explosion to your left. Immerz says the technology is platform independent and works with any device that has audio output.

The idea seems to fit into the futuristic roadmap, as we make our way toward the Star Trek Holodeck where reality completely blends with computer-generated imagery. But I question whether gamers will pay extra for a gaming peripheral that only takes them part of the way toward full immersion. Wouldn’t it be great to have a full-body suit that could give you haptic feedback? But we’re not there yet.

immerz 3The company says there is good reason for focusing on haptics around the upper chest. It says that by delivering nearly imperceptible vibrations to select areas of the chest, KOR-fx activates neural pathways that subconsciously monitor the vibrations of the chest cavity that naturally occur when speaking, laughing or crying.

The product will launch in May for $189.99. Here’s a link to a video of it in action. The angel-funded company was founded in 2008 and it has three employees. As yet there are no competitors, but there are plenty of makers of gaming chairs or vests that vibrate when you play games.

The product is the brainchild of Shahriar Afshar, a physicist who drew some fame for his work in quantum mechanics. He is a professor of physics at Rowan University and is chief scientist at the Institute for Radiation-Induced Mass Studies.


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