Shock and Awesome: New Technology Lets Gamers Feel the Noise

“Interestingly enough,” says Shahriar Afshar, “I’m not a gamer myself. I’m a physics professor.”

Afshar is not of our generation, and as such finds today’s videogames a bit noisy. That said, he understands the gamer’s need to immerse himself in the sound of loud gunfire, rock music, and angry grunting at full volume. So he got to thinking. And boy, did he think.

The Kor-FK is Afshar’s answer to the conundrum. Looking like a set of headphones melting around one’s neck, the Kor-FX is essentially a Rumble Pak (albeit a far more sophisticated, subtle one) that straps onto a gamer and translates what he hears into what he feels. It’s what Afshar is calling “4D… emotional surround sound”.

Afshar says the tech is akin to how the brain would naturally interpret real stimulation. “It feels like Spidey senses,” he says. “It’s like there’s stuff happening somewhere that you can’t even see, but you can feel it happening.” While ‘Spidey senses’ isn’t exactly what I’d call my brain’s natural interpretation of the world, I get the concept.

Afshar is keen on this taking off, too, saying it’s a logical progression of entertainment tech. With all this 3D and motion control going on, I’m willing to be he’s not wrong… as long as we can suffer wearing big 3D glasses, the grandson of the Power Glove, and now this big strappy headponey dealie. “Honey, did you wanna play Wii Sports 5 with the kids? Suit up!”

An interesting thing about Kor-FX is that Afshar notes that it’s compatible with any electronic device with sound outputs. “If you’re not into sappy movies, you will end up crying with this device,” he says. A bold claim. A bold claim indeed.

If you want ever-more stuff to strap to yourself whilst you game, the Kor-FX will be hitting shelves by year’s end for just less than 200 bucks.

[Via CNN]

Written by Ty Dunitz

Ty is an illustrator who stays up too late, and has to wear glasses. You can follow him on Twitter if you want to (@glitchritual), but he's just gonna throw your stupid PR crap in the garbage, so don't email him.
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Comments
  • http://fyates.com Fred Yates

    I rarely am one to jump into comments to downplay a post but I’ve tried this thing on at a local MIT startup event and it’s exactly what you say it is, but not as cool as you think it is – a rumble pak for your chest. You can kind of feel a little vibration coming from this awkward feeling apparatus slung around your neck, but it never felt to me like it was part of the game. Sometimes I even felt like the vibrations were just random. Just vibrating based on sound inputs is pretty lame. What about parts of the game that don’t output loud sounds but would be improved with vibrations like heartbeats or distant explosions, or anything that takes place in outer space with no sound? The quiet/silent actions that would benefit from vibration are endless.

    The point about people willing to wear giant 3d glasses is exactly the reason this won’t succeed in my opinion, no one actually wants to wear those 3d glasses. I think about how ridiculous and uncomfortable those glasses look on all the new 3d tv commercials and how I could never see myself buying the technology until I don’t have to wear extra equipment. The same applies for this glorified rumble pak. As a very avid gamer, I think it would be sweet to have extra senses be involved in the gameplay but I don’t want to wear an extra uncomfortable piece of equipment, especially when it’s barely influencing my experience anyway.

    At $200, this thing is going to cost more than most consoles cost, which is just absurd.

    The problem is that it should be built by a gamer not a physics professor.