The OmniWear Arc is a wearable haptic device that lets you feel when players are around you. It’s like having a wingman in a fast-action game, according to its maker OmniWear Haptics.
The Seattle company is announcing the Arc today as an aid for players who have to keep track of too many things in video games. OmniWear is raising $57,000 in a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter.
You wear the Arc around your neck and it buzzes to alert you of specific threats. In Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, it will tell you if someone is approaching you from behind. You can feel where the players are around you, based on which part of the Arc is vibrating.
“Modern games require you to keep track of so many things — the radar, the position of your teammates, your health, and the actual gameplay,” said OmniWear Haptics founder and CEO Ehren Brav, in a statement. “With the Arc, you can offload some of this visual information to an untapped sensory channel: your sense of touch. This communicates information in a minimally-invasive way that doesn’t further burden your eyes or ears. Gaming while wearing the Arc is like having a wingman who watches the radar for you and warns you of incoming threats.”
The Arc is a kind of sixth sense, which helps you make use of your sense of touch. You can react to other players more quickly, anticipate surprise attacks, and become more competitive in some of the biggest multiplayer games around, the company said.
By varying the frequency and intensity of the haptic signals, the Arc gives you an immediate sense of range and bearing to help you react more quickly to events around you. The device is controlled via Bluetooth by the OmniWear mobile app, which uses machine vision to interpret the user interface of the game on the screen and translate this information into tactile signals perceived by the user. Together, the system provides a second set of eyes watching the game as you play and warning you of incoming threats.
The Arc is available for advance purchase for $150 on Kickstarter and will be shipping in the fall of 2017. The Arc and its companion iOS and Android apps support Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and League of Legends. Developers will also be able add support for their own applications using the Arc SDK, and can directly integrate the device into a game.
OmniWear supporters will receive the lightweight, ergonomic, and wireless OmniWear Arc device, a mount to set up the phone on a screen and a USB cable charger.
“Gaming is an industry that demands its players to be hyper aware of their surroundings and their competitors,” said Brav. “The gaming environment is a natural place to apply haptics for augmenting situational awareness. We’re continuing to learn about integrating tactile feedback into other applications where situational awareness is paramount, such as industrial safety, sports and vehicle operation. Our vision is to make the sense of touch a primary channel for communicating information.”
The company has four people, not counting external partners. It was incubated by the Invention Science Fund, which invested $1 million in OmniWear.