Thursday, June 12, 2014

Rumble Vest

Over the years we have seen our fair share of new technology to make video games more immersive, but the projects have floundered or never really moved beyond the development phase. KOR-FX, a vibrating vest that you wear while you play a game, is hoping to be different. It was showcased at E3 this year, and while it looks bulky and cumbersome, the creators of the clothing from the company Immerz, say it's not like other rumble packs.

Other systems typical focus on the volume of the action itself. The louder the sound, the more vibration. KOR-FX uses a filtering algorithm to guesstimate which frequencies should produce more rumble. If you hear a sound that thumps in your chest, that will have more power over a high-pitched squeal that might only jar the ears.

The article from Time hits a key issue that many of these "clothing" systems have yet to fix: you know you are wearing the damn vest. You know that you are wearing a glove, or a suit, or a helmet. It does not feel like other pieces of clothing one would usually wear. That in itself takes away the immersive aspects of playing the game. While yes, holding a controller is still not natural (you could argue that it is now with how prevalent gaming is in society today), but it doesn't have the heft, bulk, and weight of a vest with dozens of points of tech. Sitting in a chair or on a couch with a light controller in your hands is reasonable by comparison.

Funding for the project, as well as pre-orders, are now available on Kickstarter for a minimum $150 price tag. Maybe over time these type of immersive clothing systems will become common-place. Until then, companies need to figure out how to make the clothes feel natural. It shouldn't be a hassle to play a game and load yourself with 20 pounds of equipment. It needs to be as easy as picking up the controller and sitting down.


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